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FOLK-LORE AND LEGENDS
RUSSIAN AND POLISH
RUSSIAN AND POLISH
W. W. GIBBINGS
i8 BURY ST., LONDON, W.C
In this volume I present selections made from the
Russian chap-book literature, and from the works
of various Russian and Polish collectors of Folklore
— Afanasief, Erben, Wojcicki, Glinski, etc. The
chap-book tales, and many of those of Glinski, are,
there is little doubt, of foreign origin, but since
Russia and Poland are the countries in which these
tales have found their home, and since they have
there been so adapted by the people as to incor-
porate the national customs and lore, they appear
to me to belong properly to the present volume.
C. J. T.
The Poor Man and the Judge,
The Wind Rider, .
The Three Gift? .
Prince Peter and Princess Magilene,
The Old Man, his Wife, and the Fish,
The Golden Mountain,
The Duck that laid Golden Eggs, .
Emelyan the Fool, .
Ilija, the Muromer, .
The Bad-Tempered Wife, .
Ivashka with the Bear's Ear,
The Plague, ....
The Peasant and the Wind,
The Wonderful Cloth,
The Evil Eye,
The Seven Brothers, .
Sila Czarovitch and Ivaschka,
The Stolen Heart, .
The Ghost, ....
THE POOR MAN AND THE JUDGE.
Once upon a time there were two brothers who
lived upon a piece of ground. The one was rich
and the other poor. One day the poor brother
went to the rich one to ask him to lend him a
horse, so that he might carry wood from the forest.
The rich brother lent him the horse, and then the
poor one asked him to also let him have a collar for
it. The rich man, however, got angry, and would
not let him have one, and then it occurred to the
poor man that he could fasten the sledge to the
horse's tail. Away he went to the forest to get his
wood, and he got such a load that the horse could
scarcely draw it. When he came home with it he
opened the gate, but he did not think of the board
at the foot of the gate, and the horse tumbling over
it tore its tail out !
The poor fellow took the horse back to his rich
brother, but he, when he saw that the horse had no
tail, would not receive it, and went off to the judge
Schemyaka to complain to him of the poor brother.
The poor man saw that things looked bad for him,
2 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
and that he would be sent for by the judge. He
thought over the matter for a long time, and at last
set off after his brother on foot.
On their way the two brothers had to pass over
a bridge, and the poor man, thinking that he should
never return from the judge alive, jumped over it.
It chanced that, just at that time, a man's son was
driving his sick father to the baths, and was passing
under the bridge. The poor man fell upon the old
man and killed him, and the son went off to the
judge to complain of his father's having been
The rich brother, when he came to the judge, laid
his complaint before him, telling him that his brother
had pulled out his horse's tail. Now the poor man
had taken a stone and wrapped it in a cloth, and he
stood with it in his hand, behind his brother, in-
tending to kill the judge if he did not decide in his
favour. The judge thought the man had brought a
hundred roubles for him in the cloth, so he ordered
the rich man to give his horse to the poor man until
the tail was grown again.
Then came the son to complain to tlie judge of
the poor man having slain his father. The poor
man again took the stone wrapped in the cloth and
showed it to the judge, who thought the man must
there have two hundred roubles to give to him for
deciding the case. So he ordered the son to take
his place upon the bridge and the poor man to stand
THE POOR MAN A.ND THE JUDGE. 3
below. Then the son was to throw himself off the
bridge on to the poor man and crush him to death.
The poor brother went to the rich one to take the
horse without a tail, as the judge had ordered, so
that he might keep it till the tail grew. The rich
man, however, was not willing to lose his horse,
so he gave the poor man five roubles, three bushels
of com, and a milch-goat, and so they settled the
Then the poor man went off to the son, and said —
" According to the judgment you must stand on
the bridge while I must stand underneath it, and
then you must jump off and crush me to death."
Then thought the son —
"Who knows whether if I jump off the bridge
I may not, instead of crushing him to death, kill
So he thought it would be best to come to an ar-
rangement with the poor man, and he gave him two
hundred roubles, a horse, and five bushels of com.
After this the judge, Schemyaka, sent his servant
to the poor man to ask him for two hundred roubles.
The poor man showed him the stone, and said —
" If the judge had not decided for me I should
have killed him with it."
When the servant came back to the judge and
told him that, he crossed himself —
*' Thank Heaven," said he, "I decided as he
wished ! "
A MAGICIAN was once upon a time much put out
with a young countryman, and being in a great rage
he went to the man's hut and stuck a new sharp
knife under the threshold. While he did so he
cursed the man, saying —
" May this fellow ride for seven years on the fleet
storm-wind, until he has gone all round the
Now when the peasant went into the meadows in
order to carry the hay, there came suddenly a gust
of wind. It quickly scattered the hay, and then
seized the peasant. He endeavoured in vain to
resist; in vain he sought to cling to the hedges
and trees with his hands. Do what he would, the
invisible power hurried him forwards.
He flew on the wings of the wind like a wild
pigeon, and his feet no more touched the ground.
At length the sun set, and the poor fellow looked
with hungry eyes upon the smoke which curled up
from the chimneys in his village. He could almost
touch them with his feet, but he called and screamed
THE WIND-RIDER. 6
in vain, and all his wailing and complaints were use-
less. No one heard his lamentation, no one saw his
So he went on for three months, and what with
thirst and hunger he was dried up and almost a
skeleton. He had gone over a good deal of ground
by that time, but the wind most often carried him
over his native village.
He wept when he saw the hut in which dwelt his
sweetheart. He could see her busied about the house.
Sometimes she would bring out some dinner in a
basket. Then he would stretch out his dried-up
hands to her, and vainly call her name. His voice
would die away, and the girl not hearing him would
not look up.
He fled on. The magician came to the door
of his hut, and seeing the man, cried to him,
" You have to ride for seven years yet, flying over
this village. You shall go on sufi'ering, and shall
" my father," said the man, " if I ever offended
you, forgive me ! Look ! my lips are quite hard; my
face, my hands, look at them ! I am nothing but
bone. Have pity upon me."
The magician muttered a few words, and the man
stopped in his course. He stayed in one place, but
did not yet stand on the ground.
" Well, you ask me to pity you," said the magician.
6 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
" And what do you mean to give me if I put a stop
to your torment 1 "
*' All you wish," said the peasant, and he clasped
his hands, and knelt down in the air.
**Will you give me your sweetheart," asked the
magician, "so that I may have her for my wife?
If you will give her up, you shall come to earth
The man thought for a moment, and said to him-
" If I once get on the earth again, I may see if I
cannot do something."
So he said to the magician —
" Indeed, you ask me to make a great sacrifice,
but if it must be so it must."
The magician then blew at him, and the man
came to the ground. He was very pleased to find
the earth once more under his feet, and to have
escaped from the power of the wind. Off he
hurried to his hut, and at the threshold he met
his sweetheart. She cried aloud with amazement
when she saw the long-lost peasant, whom she had
so long lamented and wept for. With his skinny
hands the man put her gently aside, and went into
the house, where he found the farmer who had
employed him sitting down, and said to him, as
he commenced to weep —
"I can no longer stay in your service, and I
cannot marry your daughter. I love her very
THE WIND-RIDER. 7
much, as much as the apple of my eye, but I
cannot marry her."
The old farmer wondered to see him, and when
he saw his white pinched face and the traces of his
suffering, he asked him why he did not wish for
the hand of his daughter.
The man told him all about his ride in the air,
and the bargain he had made with the magician.
When the farmer had listened to it all, he told the
poor fellow to keep a good heart, and putting some
money in his pocket, went out to consult a sor-
Towards evening he returned very merry, and
taking the peasant aside, said to him —
" To-morrow morning, before day, go to the witch,
and you will find all will be welL"
The wearied peasant, who had not slept for three
months, went to bed, but he woke before it was
day, and went off to the witch. He found her
sitting beside the hearth boiling herbs over a fire.
She told him to stand by her, and, suddenly,
although it was a calm day, such a storm of wind
arose that the hut shook again.
The sorceress then took the peasant outside into
the yard and told him to look up. He lifted up
his eyes, and — wonder ! — saw the evil magician
whirling round and round in the air.
"There is your enemy," said the woman, "he
will trouble you no more. If you would like to
8 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE
see him at your wedding, I will tell you what to
do, but he must suffer the torment that he meant
to put you to."
The peasant was delighted, and ran back to the
house, and a month later he was married. While
the wedding folk were dancing, the peasant went
out into the yard, looked up, and saw right over
the hut the magician turning round and round.
Then the peasant took a new knife, and throwing
it with all his force, stuck it in the magician's foot.
He fell at once to the ground, and the knife held
him to the earth, so that he could only stand at the
wiudow and see how merry the peasant and his
The next day he had disappeared, but he was
afterwards seen flying in the air over a lake.
Before hira and behind him were flocks of ravens
and crows, and these, with their hoarse cries,
heralded the wicked magician's endless ride on the
THE THREE GIFTS.
A VERY rich widow had three children, a step-son,
a fine young fellow, a step-daughter of wonderful
beauty, and a daughter who was not so bad. The
three children lived under the same roof, and took
their meals together. At length the time came
when the children were treated very diflferently.
Although the widow's daughter was bad-tempered,
obstinate, vain, and a chatterer, her mother loved
her passionately, praised her, and covered her with
caresses. She was favoured in every way. The
step-son, who was a good-natured lad, and who did
all kinds of work, was for ever grumbled at, checked,
and treated like a sluggard. As for the step-daughter,
who was so wonderfully pretty, and who had the
disposition of an angel, she was tormented, worried,
and ill-treated in a thousand ways. Between her
sister and her step-mother her life was made miser-
It is natural that one should love one's own
children better than those of other folk ; but it is
only right that liking and disliking should be
10 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
indulged in with moderation. Tlie evil step-mother,
however, loved her child to distraction, and equally
detested her step-children. To such a pitch did she
carry these feelings that when she was angry she
used to say how she would advance the fortune of
her daughter even at the orphans' expense.
An old proverb says, " Man sets the ball rolling,
but Heaven directs it," and we shall see what
One Sunday morning the step-daughter, before
going to church, went out into the garden to pluck
some flowers to place on the altar. She had
gathered some roses, when, on lifting up her eyes,
she saw, right in front of her, three young men who
sat upon a grassy bank. They were clothed in
garments of dazzling white which shone like sun-
shine. Near by them was an old man, who came
and asked the girl for alms.
The girl was a little frightened when she saw the
three men, but when the old man came to her she
took her last piece of money out of her pocket and
gave it to him. The poor man thanked her, put
the piece of money into his bag, and, laying his
hand on the girl's head, said to the young
"You see this little orphan; she is good and
patient in suffering, and has so much pity for the
poor that she gives them even the last penny she
has. What do you wish for her 1 "
THE THREE GIFTS. 11
The first one said —
•' I wish that when she cries her tears may turn
" I wish," said the second, " that when she laughs
the most delicately perfumed roses may fall from
"And I," said the third, "wish that when she
touches water golden fish spring up in it."
" So shall it be," said the old man, and he and
his companions vanished.
When the girl saw that, she gave thanks to
Heaven, and ran joyfully into the house. Hardly
had she entered when her step-mother met her
and gave her a slap on the face, saying —
" Where are you running to 1 "
The poor girl began to cry, but behold ! instead
of tears pearls fell from her eyes. The step-mother
forgot her rage, and set herself to gather them up
as quickly as possible. The girl could not help
laughing at the sight, and from her lips there fell
roses of such a delightful scent that the step-mother
was beside herself with pleasure. After that the
girl, wishing to preserve the flowers she had
plucked in the garden, poured some water into a
glass : as soon as she touched the water with her
finger, it was filled with beautiful golden fish.
From that time the same things never failed to
happen. The girl's tears turned to pearls, when she
laughed roses, which did not die, fell from her lips ;
12 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
and water which she only touched with her little
finger became filled with golden fish.
The step-mother became better disposed towards
her, and by little and little learned from her the
secret of how she had obtained these gifts.
On the following Sunday she sent her own
daughter into the garden to pluck flowers as if
for the altar. Hardly had the girl gathered some
roses, when, lifting up her eyes, she saw the three
young men sitting on a grassy bank, beautiful, and
shining like the sun, and by them was the old man,
clad in white, who asked her for alms. When she
saw the young men, the girl pretended to be afraid,
but when the old man spoke to her, she ran to him,
took out of her pocket a gold piece, looked hard at
it, and then gave it to him, but evidently very much
against her will. The old man put the money in
his bag, and said to the three others —
"You see this girl who is her mother's spoilt
child 1 She is bad-tempered, wicked, and is hard-
hearted as regards the poor. We know very well
why she has been so charitable, for the first time in
her life, to-day. Tell me then what you wish for
The first said —
" I wish that when she cries her tears may change
" I," said the second, " wish that when she laughs,
hideous toads may fall from her lips."
THE THREE GIFTS. 13
"And I," said the third, "wish that when she
touches water with her hand it may be filled with
" It shall be as you wish," said the old man, and
he and his companions disappeared.
The girl was terrified, and ran into the house to
tell her mother what had happened. All occurred
as had been said. When she laughed toads sprang
from her lips, when she cried her tears changed to
lizards, and when she touched water it became full
The step-mother did not know what to do. She
paid greater attention than ever to her daughter,
and hated the orphans more and more, and so
tormented them that the lad, not being able to put
up with it, took leave of his sister, praying Heaven
to guard her, and, leaving his step-mother's house,
set out to seek his fortune. The wide world was
before him. He knew not where to go, but he
knew that Heaven, that sees all men, watches over
the orphans. He prayed, and then walking down
to the burial-ground where slept his father and
mother, he knelt at the grave. He wept and
prayed for a time, and having kissed the earth
which covered them three times, he rose and
prepared to set out on his journey. All of a
sudden he felt, in the folds of his dress on his
bosom, something he had not perceived there
before. He put his hand up, and was so astonished
14 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
that he could scarcely believe his eyes, for he found
there a charming little picture of his much-loved
sister, surrounded by pearls, roses, and little golden
fish. Delighted at the sight, he kissed the picture,
looked around the burial-ground once more, made
the sign of the cross, and set out on his way.
A story is soon told, but events move slowly.
After many adventures of little importance he
came to the capital of a kingdom situated on the
sea-shore. There he sought to obtain a living, and
he was not unsuccessful, for he was engaged to look
after the king's garden, and was both well fed and
well paid. This good fortune did not, however,
make him forget his poor sister, about whom he
was much troubled. When he had a moment to
himself, he would sit down in some quiet spot and
look at his picture, sometimes melting into tears,
for he looked upon the portrait of his sister as a
precious legacy given to him by his parents at their
One day while the lad sat thus by a brook, the
king saw him, and creeping up to him from behind
very softly, he looked over his shoulder at the like-
ness that the young man was regarding so atten-
" Give me the portrait," said the king.
The lad gave it to him.
The king looked at it and was delighted.
" Never," said he, " in all my life did I see such a
THE THREE GIFTS. 1 5
beautiful girl, never have I heard of such a one,
never did I dream there was such. Tell me, does
she live 1 "
The lad burst into tears, and told the king that
the picture was the portrait of his sister, who some
time ago had been so favoured by Heaven that
when she cried her tears became pearls, when she
laughed roses sprang from her lips, and when she
touched water it was filled with golden fish.
The king ordered him to write at once to his
step-mother, to tell her to send her lovely step-
daughter to his palace, where the king waited to
make her his wife. On the occasion of his marriage
he declared he would heap rewards on the step-
mother and on the brother of his bride. The lad
wrote the letter, and the king sent a servant with it.
A story is quickly told, but events move slowly.
After she had read the letter, the step-mother did
not show it to the orphan, but to her own daughter.
So they plotted together, and the step-mother
went to an old sorceress to consult her, and to be
instructed in magic. She then set out with her two
daughters. As they came near to the capital of the
king's dominions, in a place near to the sea, the
step-mother suddenly threw the step-daughter out
of the carriage, muttered some magic words, and
spat three times behind her. All at once the poor
girl became very little, covered with feathers, and
changed into a wild duck. She commenced to
16 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORK.
cackle, threw herself into the sea, just as ducks do,
and began to swim about there. The step-mother
dismissed her with these words : " By the force of
my hate, I have done what I wished ! Swim away
upon the shore like a duck, happy in liberty, and in
the meantime my daughter, clothed in your beauty,
shall marry the king, and enjoy all that was meant
Hardly had she finished these words when her
daughter found herself clothed in all the charms of
the unfortunate girl. So they went on their way,
came to the palace, which they reached at the time
named in the letter, and there the king received the
daughter from the hands of the treacherous step-
mother, in place of the orphan. After the marriage,
the step-mother, loaded with presents, returned to
her home. The king, looking upon his wife, could
not imagine how it was that he did not feel that
love and tenderness that had been aroused in him at
the sight of the portrait. However, there was no
remedy, what was done was done. Heaven sees
one, and knows of what malady one shall die, and
what woman one shall marry ! The king admired
his wife's beauty, and thought of the pleasure he
would have when he saw the pearls drop from her
eyes, the roses from her lips, and the golden fish
spring up in the water she touched. During the
feast, however, the queen chanced to laugh at her
husband, and a mass of hideous toads sprang forth !
THE THREE GIFTS. 17
The king ran oflf quickly. Then the queen com-
menced to cry, and instead of pearls, lizards dropped
from her eyes. An attendant presented a basin
of water to her, but she had no sooner dipped the
tip of her finger in the water than it became a mass
of serpents, which began to hiss and dart into the
middle of the wedding party. Every one was afraid,
and all was in confusion. The guards were at last
called in, and by their aid the hall was cleared oi
the horrible reptiles.
The king had gone into the garden, where he met
with the orphan lad ; and so enraged was the king
at the trick that he thought had been played him,
that he gave the lad a blow on the head with his
stick. The poor lad, falling down upon the ground,
died at once.
The queen came running to the king, sobbing,
and, taking him by the hand, said —
"What have you done? You have killed my
brother, who was altogether guiltless. Is it his fault
or mine that, since I have been married to you, I
have lost the wonderful powers I once had 1 They
will come back again in time, but time will not
bring my brother to me more."
" Pardon me, my dear wife," said the king. " In
a moment of rage I thought he had betrayed me,
and I wished to punish him. I am sorry for what
I have done ; now, however, it is beyond recall. For-
give me, and I forgive you with all my heart."
18 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
" I pardon you," said tlie queen, *' but I beg you to
order that my brother shall be honourably buried."
The queen's wish was carried out. The poor lad,
who was thought to be the queen's brother, was put
in a fine coffin, and laid on a magnificent catafalque
in the church. When night came on a guard of
honour was placed around the coffin and at the
gates to watch till morning. Towards midnight the
doors of the church opened of their own accord and
without any noise, and, at the same moment, an
irresistible drowsiness came over the soldiers, who
all went to sleep. A pretty little wild duck entered,
stopped in the middle of the church, shook its
feathers, of which it freed itself one by one, and
there stood the orphan girl in her former shape.
She approached the coffin of her brother, and shed
very many tears over him, which all changed to
pearls. After she had wept for some time, she
reassumed the feathers once more, and went out.
When the guards awoke, great was their
surprise to find a number of beautiful pearls on the
coffin. The next day they told the king how the
gates of the church had opened of themselves at
midnight, how an irresistible desire to sleep had
overtaken them, and how the pearls had been dis-
covered upon the coffin. The king was surprised at
their story, and more so when he saw the pearls.
He doubled the guard, and told them to watch more
carefully the second night.
THE THREE GIFTS. 19
At the same time the doors opened again of
themselves, and the soldiers again fell asleep. The
wild duck entered, shook off its feathers, and
became the lovely girl. At the sight of the double
guard, all of them fast asleep, she could not help
laughing, and beautiful roses fell from her lips. As
she approached her brother her tears broke forth
and fell in a shower of pearls to the ground. At
length she took her feathers again and flew away.
When the guards awoke they collected the roses
and pearls and took them to the king, who was now
more surprised than before, seeing not only the
pearls but the roses also. He again doubled the
guards, and he threatened them with the most
severe punishment if they did not keep awake.
They did their best, but all was of no use. At the
end of their nap on the third night they found not
only pearls and roses, but also golden fish swim-
ming in the church font. The king was now very
much astonished, and began to think that there
must be some magic in the matter. When night
came on he again doubled the number of the
guards, and hid himself in the chapel, after having
put up a mirror in which he could see everything
reflected without being himself seen.
At midnight the doors opened of themselves,
the soldiers dropt their arms, lay down on the
ground, and fell fast asleep. The king did not
take his eyes oflF the mirror, and he saw a little
20 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE. '
wild duck enter, and look timidly around it. When
it saw the guards all asleep it seemed to take
courage, and came into the middle of the church.
Then it cast off its feathers and became a girl of
extraordinary loveliness. The king was trans-
ported with joy and wonder, and felt that this must
be his true bride. When she had come to the
coffin the king rushed forward with a wax taper in
his hand and set fire to the feathers, the flame
leaping up and waking the guards. When the girl
saw what was done she ran to the king wringing
her hands, while pearls dropped from her eyes.
" What have you done ? " she cried. " How shall
I now escape the fury of my step-mother, by whose
magic arts I was turned into a wild duck ? "
Then she told the king all, and he at once
ordered some of his guards to seize the woman who
had so treacherously married him, and to conduct
her out of the kingdom. He also sent some soldiers
to take the step-mother and burn her as a sorceress.
While the king gave these orders the girl took from
her bosom three little vessels, which she had
brought with her from the sea, full of different
liquids. She sprinkled the liquid in one of them
over her brother, and he became supple and warm ;
his cheeks took their colour again, and the warm
red blood began to run from his wound. His sister
sprinkled him again with the second liquid, which
had the property of healing, and his wound at once
THE THREE GIFTS. 21
closed. She sprinkled him the third time with the
water which had the property of calling back to life.
The young man opened his eyes, looked on his sister
with astonishment, and threw himself, full of happi-
ness, into her arms.
At the sight of this the king was overjoyed.
He took the young man by the hand, and, leading
his sister, the three went to the palace.
In a short time he married his true bride, and he
lived happily with her and her brother for many
There was once upon a time a peasant named Ivan,
who had a wife named Mary. They had been
married many years, and loved one another, but
they had no children, and this caused them so much
sorrow that they could find no pleasure but in
watching the children of their neighbours. What
could they do 1 Heaven had willed it so. Things
in this world do not go as we wish, but as Heaven
One day, in the winter, the children played about
in the road and the two old folk looked on, sitting
in the window seat. At last the children began to
make a beautiful snow figure. Ivan and Mary
looked on enjoying it.
All of a sudden Ivan said —
" Wife, suppose we make a snow figure 1 "
Mary was ready.
" Why not 1 " said she ; " we might as well amuse
ourselves a little. But what is the use of making a
big figure] Better make a snow-child, since God
has not given us a living one."
" You are right," said Ivan, and he took his hat
and went out into the garden with his wife.
So they set to work to make a snow-child. They
fashioned a little body, little hands, and little feet,
and when all that was done they rolled a snow-ball
and shaped it into a head.
" Heaven bless you ! " cried a passer-by.
" Thanks," replied Ivan.
" The help of Heaven is always good," said Mary.
"What are you doing?" asked the stranger.
" Look," said Ivan.
" We are making a snow-girl," said Mary.
On the ball of snow which stood for a head they
made the nose and the chin. Then they put two
little holes for the eyes. As Ivau finished the
work, oh, wonderful ! the figure became alive ! He
felt a warm breath come from its lips. Ivan drew
back, and looked. The child had sparkling eyes,
and there was a smile upon its lips.
" Heavens ! what is this ] " cried Ivan, making
the sign of the cross.
The snow figure bent its head as if it was alive,
and stirred its little arms and legs in the snow as if
it was a real child.
" Ivan ! Ivan ! " cried Mary, trembling with joy,
" Heaven has heard our prayers," and she threw her-
self on the child and covered her with kisses. The
snow fell away from the little girl like the shell from
a chicken. .
24 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
" Ah, my dear Snyegurka ! " cried Mary, embrac-
ing the long wished for and unexpected child, and
she carried her off into the cottage.
Ivan had much to do to recover himself, he was
so surprised, and Mary was foolish with joy.
Snyegurka grew hour by hour, and became more
and more beautiful. Ivan and Mary were over-
joyed, and their hut was full of life and merriment.
The village girls were always there playing with
Snyegurka, dressing her, chattering with her, sing-
ing songs to her, teaching her all they knew.
Snyegurka was very clever ; she noticed everything,
and learnt things quickly. During that winter she
grew as big as a three-year-old child. She under-
stood things, and when she spoke her voice was
so sweet that one could have listened to it for ever.
She was amiable, obedient, and affectionate. Her
skin was white, her hair the colour of flax, and
her eyes deep blue ; her cheeks, however, had no
rosy flush in them, for she had no blood, but she
was so good and so amiable that every one loved her.
"You see," said Mary, "what joy has Heaven
given us in our old age."
" Heaven be thanked," responded Ivan.
At last the winter was ended, and the spring sun
shone down and warmed the earth. The snow
melted, the green grass sprang up in the fields, and
the lark sang high up in the sky. The village girls
went singing —
" Sweet spring, how did you come to us ?
How did you come ?
Did you come on a plough, or on a harrow ? "
Snyegurka, however, became very sad. "What
is the matter with you, my dear child ? " said Mary,
drawing her to her and caressing her. "Are you
not well ? You are not merry. Has an evil eye
glanced on you 1 "
" No," answered Snyegurka j "it is nothing,
mother. I am quite well,"
The last snow of the winter had melted and dis-
appeared. Flowers sprang up in all the gardens
and fields. In the woods the nightingale and all
the birds sang, and all the world seemed very happy
save Snyegurka, who became more and more sad.
She would run away from her companions, and hide
herself from the sun in dark nooks, like a timid flower
under the trees. She liked nothing save playing by
the water-side under the green willows. She seemed
to enjoy only the cool and the shower. At night-
time she was happy; and when a good storm occurred,
a fierce hail-storm, she was as pleased with the drops
as if they had been pearls. When the sun broke forth
again — when the hail was melted — then Snyegurka
began to weep bitterly.
The spring was ended, the summer came, and the
feast of Saint John was at hand. The girls were
going to play in the woods, and they called for
Snyegurka to go with them.
26 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
Mary was afraid to let her go, but she thought
that the outing might do her child good, so she got
her ready, embraced her, and said —
" Go, my child, and play with your friends ; and
you, my daughters, look well after her. You know
I love her better than the apple of my eye."
" All right," cried they all, and they ran off in a
body to the woods.
There they plucked the wild-flowers, made them-
selves wreaths, and sang songs.
When the sun was setting they made a fire of
dry grass and placed themselves in a row by it,
each of them having a crown of flowers on her head.
"Look at us," said they to Snyegurka, "how we
run, and follow us," and then they began to sing
and to jump, around and over the little fire.
All of a sudden they heard, behind them, a sigh —
They looked about them, and then at one another.
There was nothing to be seen. They looked again,
and found that Snyegurka was no longer among
" She has hidden herself," cried they. Then they
looked for her, but could not find her, calling out
and shouting her name, but there was no answer.
" Where can she be 1 She must have gone home,"
They ran back to the village, but there no one
had seen Snyegurka. All the folk searched during
tho next day and the day following. They went
through all the woods, they looked through every
thicket, but no trace of the child was discovered.
Ivan and Mary were inconsolable, and for a long
time did the poor mother seek her child in the
woods, crying —
" Snyegurka, my sweet, come to me."
Sometimes she thought she could hear the voice
of her child replying to her; but no, it was not
"What could have become of her?" folk asked
one another ; " can a wild beast have carried her off
into the woods 1 Has some bird of prey flown off
with her 1"
No beast had carried her off, nor had a bird
flown away with her. When she began to run with
her companions she suddenly changed into a light
vapour, and was carried up to heaven.
PRINCE PETER AND PRINCESS
In the kingdom of France there was once a high-
born prince named Volchvan who married a noble
lady named Petronida. They had one son, who was
called Peter. This Prince Peter in his youth was
very fond of horsemanship and of war, and when he
grew up he thought of nothing but knightly deeds.
Now it chanced that just at that time there arrived
a knight named Ruiganduis, who had come from
Naples, and he, seeing the Prince's disposition, said
to him, " Prince Peter, the King of Naples has a
beautiful daughter named Magilene, and he bestows
great rewards on the knights who by their deeds
do honour to her."
Peter, when he heard that, went to his father and
mother, and begged them to let him go to Naples
to learn knightly arts, and, especially, to see the
beautiful Magilene, the daughter of the King.
They parted with Prince Peter with great sorrow,
and bade him only make friends of good folk. Then
they gave him three gold rings with precious stones,
and also a golden key. So they sent him off.
PRINCE PETER AND PRINCESS MAGILENE. 29
When Prince Peter came to Naples he went to a
clever workman, and ordered him to make him a
coat of mail, and a helmet to match, and told him
to fasten to it two golden keys. When he had
done this he rode away to the place where the
tournaments were held, where he found the King.
The folk called Peter, Peter with the Golden Keys,
and off he went and placed himself among the
knights. First of all there rode out the Knight
Andrei Skrintor, and against him appeared the son
of the King of England. Andrei dealt Henry such
a blow, that he was nearly thrown off his horse.
Then Landiot, the King's son, came forth and threw
Andrei off his horse on to the ground.
When Prince Peter saw that Landiot had thrown
Andrei from his saddle, he rode out and cried
" Long may their Majesties live in happiness, the
King, the Queen, and their beautiful daughter, the
He rode at Landiot with such force that his
horse rolled on the ground and the spear went
through his heart. This deed won for him the
praise of the King and of all the knights, but
especially that of the Princess Magilene, and Prince
Peter became the first of all the King's knights.
Now when the beautiful Princess saw how brave
and handsome Prince Peter was she fell in love
with him, and resolved to marry him. She made a
30 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
confidante of her maid, and from that time Prince
Peter used to see the Princess daily. He gave her
the three golden rings as a mark of his true love,
and one day, taking her with him, rode away from
They rode off on their good horse, taking much
gold and silver with them, and they continued their
journey all night. At length they came to a thick
forest which stretched far away to the seashore.
There they stopped to rest, and the Princess, lying
down on the grass, fell fast asleep. Prince Peter
sat by her side and watched her, and as he looked
at her he saw a locket having a golden fastening.
He opened it and out fell the three gold rings he
had given to her. The Prince put them on the grass,
and, as it chanced, a black raven flew by at the
moment, seized the rings, and took them off into a
tree. Peter climbed up the tree, hoping to catch
the bird ; but as he was about to seize it, the raven
flew into another tree, and so from tree to tree till
at last it went away over the sea to an island, letting
the rings fall into the water.
Prince Peter followed the bird, and, having come
to the seashore, he looked about him for a boat in
which he could pursue it to the island. At length
he set off in a small fishing-boat, but as he had no
oars he paddled along with his hands. All of a
sudden, as he was on his way, there came on a
storm of wind which carried him away to the open
PRINCE PETER AND PRINCESS MAGILENE. 31
sea. When the Prince saw he was far from the shore
he thought he was lost, and he prayed with groans
" Alas ! I am the most miserable and unfortunate
of all men," said he. " Why did I not leave the
rings in the locket where they were safe 1 No one
in the world is so unfortunate as I, for I have lost
my happiness. I have led the Princess away, and
have left her in the thick forest, where wild beasts
will tear her in pieces, or she will wander about till
she dies of hunger. I am her destroyer, and have
spilt innocent blood ! " He then began to sink in
As it chanced, a vessel came by, bound from
Turkey, and when the sailors saw a man floating
on the sea, they took him on board, and, carrying
him away to Alexandria, they sold him to a Turkish
Pasha, who sent him off as a present to the Sultan.
When the Sultan saw how good his behaviour was,
and how agreeable he was, he made him one of his
counsellors, and his honesty and his good nature
won him the love of all who came in contact with
When the Princess awoke she found herself in
the thick forest. She looked on every side, and
when she could not see Prince Peter, she was much
distressed, and sank down upon the ground. Then
she went into the wood, and called with all her
32 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
"My dear husband, Prince Peter, where are
you ? "
She wandered on a long way until she met a nun,
with whom she exchanged clothes, putting on the
nun's dark garments and giving her her own light-
coloured dress. Then she went on to a port, where
she went on board a vessel which was about to sail
to the country over which Prince Peter's father
ruled. When she came there she went to live with
a noble lady named Susanna, and, finding a place
among the mountains, she made a harbour, built a
convent there named after the apostles Peter and
Paul, and there she also founded a hospital for
strangers. So she became famous for her pious
works. One day the father and mother of Prince
Peter came to her and brought to her three rings.
They told her that their cook had purchased a fish
in which the rings had been found. These rings
they had given to their son Peter, and they there-
fore concluded that he had been drowned, and they
Now when Peter had been with the Sultan a
long time, he wished to visit his own land, and the
Sultan gave him his leave to go, loading him, at the
same time, with presents of gold, silver, and mag-
nificent pearls. Having taken leave of the Sultan,
the Prince went and hired a French vessel, bought
fourteen casks, put salt at the bottom of them, laid
the gold and silver in the casks, scattered more salt
PRINCE PETER AND PRINCESS MAGILENE. 33
on the top of the treasure, and told the sailors that
there was nothing but salt in the casks. The wind
was favourable, and they set off for the Prince's
land, and, having arrived at an island not far off the
coast of France, they weighed anchor, for the Prince
was very sea-sick. He went upon shore and wan-
dered about in the island till he lost his way, and
being tired he lay down and went to sleep. He
slept a long time, and the sailors sought him and
called him everywhere, but as they could not find
him they set sail. They came to the Princess's
convent, and there they sold the salt. Now one
day when salt was wanted Magilene went to the
casks and was very much surprised to find in them
all the treasure.
Prince Peter was picked up by another vessel
and came likewise to the convent. There he was
in Magilene's hospital for a month, but all that time
he did not recognise the Princess, for her black veil
hid her features from him. While he was there he
wept every day.
One day as Magilene came into the hospital she
saw the Prince weeping, and she asked him why
he did so, and he told her all his misfortunes.
Magilene then recognised him, and sent off to his
father and mother to tell them that their son was
come back. When they came to the convent they
found the Princess arrayed in her royal garments ;
and when the Prince saw his parents he fell at
34 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
their feet, embraced them and wept, while they
wept with him. At length he stood up, and,
taking them by the hand, kissed them, and said —
"My father and my mother, this lady is the
daughter of the great King of Naples on account
of whom I left you."
So they were married, and they lived in great
THE OLD MAN, HIS WIFE, AND THE
There once lived in a hut on the shores of the Isle
of Buyan an old man and his wife. They were
very poor. The old man used to go to the sea
daily to fish, and they only just managed to live on
what he caught. One day he let down his net and
drew it in. It seemed to be very heavy. He
dragged and dragged, and at last got it to shore.
There he found that he had caught one little
fish of a kind he had never before seen — a golden
The fish spoke to him in a man's voice. "Do
not keep me, old man," it said ; " let me go once
more free in the sea and I will reward you for it,
for whatever you wish I will do."
The old man thought for a while. Then he said,
" Well, I don't want you. Go into the sea again,"
and he threw the fish into the water and went
" Well," said his wife, when he got home, " what
have you caught to-day 1 "
36 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
"Only one little fish," said the man, "a golden
fish, and that I let go again, it begged so hard.
* Put me in the blue sea again,' it said, ' and I will
reward you, for whatever you wish I will do.' So
I let it go, and did not ask anything."
*' Ah, you old fool ! " said the wife in a great rage,
" what an opportunity you have lost. You might,
at least, have asked the fish to give us some bread.
We have scarce a crust in the house."
The old woman grumbled so much that her
husband could have no quiet, so to please her off
he went to the seashore, and there he cried out —
"Little fish, little fish, come now to me,
Your tail in the water, your head out of sea ! "
The fish came to the shore.
" Well, what do you want, old man 1 " it asked.
" My wife," said the man, " is in a great passion,
and has sent me to ask for bread."
"Very well," said the fish, "go home and you
shall have it."
The old man went back, and when he entered the
hut he found bread in plenty.
"Well," said he to his wife, "we have enough
" Oh yes ! " said she, " but I have had such a mis-
fortune while you were away. I have broken the
bucket. What shall I do the washing in now 1 Go
to the fish, and ask it to give us a new bucket."
THE OLD MAN, HIS WIFE, AND THE FISH. 37
Away went the man. Standing on the shore he
called out —
" Little fish, little fish, come now to me,
Your tail in the water, your head out of sea ! "
The fish soon made its appearance.
" Well, old man," it said, " what do you want 1 "
" My wife," said the man, " has had a misfortune,
and has broken our bucket. So I have come to ask
for a new one."
" Very well," said the fish, " you shall find one at
The old man went back. As soon as he got home
his wife said to him —
" Be off to the golden fish again, and ask it to
give us a new hut. Ours is all coming to pieces.
We have scarcely a roof over our heads."
The old man once more came to the shore, and
" Little fish, little fish, come now to me,
Your tail in the water, your head out of sea ! "
The fish came.
" Well, what is it ] " asked the fish.
"My wife," said the man, "is in a very bad
temper, and has sent me to ask you to build us a
new cottage. She says she cannot live any longer
in our present one."
" Oh, do not be troubled about that," said the fish.
" Go home. You shall have what you want."
38 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The old man went back again, and in the place of
his miserable hovel he found a new hut built of oak
and nicely ornamented. The old man was delighted,
but as soon as he went in his wife set on him, say-
" What an idiot you are ! You do not know how
to take good fortune when it is offered to you. You
think you have done a great thing just because you
have got a new hut. Be off again to the golden fish,
and tell it I will not be a mere peasant's wife any
longer, I will be an Archduchess, with plenty of
servants, and set the fashion."
The old man went to the golden fish.
" What is it 1 " asked the fish.
" My wife will not let me rest," replied the man ;
" she wants now to be an Archduchess, and is not
content with being my wife."
" Well, it shall be as she wishes. Go home again,"
said the fish.
Away went the man. How astonished was he,
when, on coming to where his house had stood, he now
found a fine mansion, three stories high. Servants
crowded the hall, and cooks were busy in the
kitchens. On a seat in a fine room sat the man's
wife, dressed in robes shining with gold and silver,
and giving orders.
" Good day, wife ! " said the man.
" Who are you, man ? " said his wife. " What
have you to do with me, a fine lady 1 Take the
THE OLD MAN, HIS WIFE, AND THE FISH. 39
clown away," said she to her servants. " Take him
to the stable, and whip some of the impudence out
The servants seized the old man, took him off to
the stable, and when they had him there beat him
so that he hardly knew whether he was alive or not.
After that the wife made him the door-keeper of the
house. She gave him a besom, and put him to keep
the yard in order. As for his meals, he got them in
the kitchen. He had a hard life of it. If the yard
was not swept clean, he had to look out.
" Who would have thought she had been such a
hag 1 " said the old man to himself. " Here she has
all such good fortune, and will not even own me for
her husband ! "
After a time the wife got tired of being merely
an Archduchess, so she said to her husband —
" Go off to the golden fish, and tell it I will be a
The old man went down to the shore. He
" Little fish, little fish, come now to ine,
Your tail in the water, your head out of sea ! "
The fish came swimming to the shore.
" Well, old man ! " it said, " what do you
want 1 "
"My wife is not yet satisfied," said the man;
" she wants now to be a Czarina,"
40 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
"Do not let that trouble you," said the fish,
"but go to your house. "What you ask shall be
The man went back. In place of the fine house
he found a palace with a roof of gold. Soldiers were
on guard around it. In front of the palace was a
garden, and at the back a fine park, in which some
troops were parading. On a balcony stood the
Czarina surrounded by officers and nobles. The
troops presented arms, the drums beat, the trumpets
blew, and the people shouted.
In a short time the woman got tired of being
Czarina, and she commanded that her husband
should be found and brought to her presence. The
palace was all in confusion, for who knew what had
become of the old mani Officers and noblemen
hurried here and there to search for him. At length
he was found in a hut behind the palace.
*' Listen, you old idiot ! " said his wife. " Go to
the golden fish, and tell it that I am tired of being
Czarina. I want to rule over all the ocean, to have
dominion over every sea and all the fish."
The old man hesitated to go to the fish with such
" Be off" ! " said his wife, " or your head shall be
The man went to the seashore and said —
"Little fish, little fish, come now to me,
Your tail in the water, your head out of sea ! " •
THE OLD MAN, HIS WIFE, AND THE FISH. 41
The fish did not come. The man waited, but it
was not to be seen. Then he said the words a
second time. The waves roared. A short while be-
fore it had been bright and calm, now dark clouds
covered the sky, the wind howled, and the water
seemed of an inky blackness.
At length the fish came.
" What do you want, old man t " it asked.
"My old wife," answered he, "is not satisfied
even now. She says she will be Czarina no longer,
but will rule over all the waters and all the fish."
The fish made no reply, but dived down and dis-
appeared in the sea.
The man went back. What had become of the
palace 1 He looked around, but could not see it. He
rubbed his eyes in wonder. On the spot where the
palace had stood was the old hut, and at the door
stood the old woman in her old rags.
So they commenced to live again in their old
style. The man often went a-fishing, but he never
more caught the golden fish.
THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN.
In a certain kingdom there once lived a Czar and
his wife who had three fine sons. The eldest was
called Vasili, the second Fedor, and the youngest
Ivan. One day the Czar went with his wife to
walk in his garden, and there suddenly came on
such a storm that the Czarina was carried off by it,
out of her husband's sight. The Czar was sore
grieved, and sorrowed for a long time. When the
two eldest sons saw their father's trouble they came
to him, and asked him to let them go forth to look
for their mother. So he gave them his blessing,
and they set out. They travelled for a long time,
and at last came to a great desert. There they
pitched their tent, and waited to see if any one
would come to tell them the way. For three years
they waited, but they saw no one.
Meanwhile the youngest brother, Ivan, went to
his father to ask him for his blessing, and took
leave of him. He travelled for a long time, until
at last he saw some tents in the distance. He rode
on, and on coming to them he saw that he had
found his brothers.
THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN. 43
"Why do yoa stop on the borders of this dreary
waste, brothers 1 " said he ; " let us go on together
and seek our mother."
The others agreed, and they once more set out.
When they had gone a long way they saw in the
distance a palace built of crystal, with a wall around
it of the same material. They drew near to it, and
Ivan opened the gate and rode into the courtyard.
As he approached the door he saw a pillar to which
there were attached two rings, one of gold and the
other of silver. He put his bridle through the
rings and secured his horse, and then went to the
door. There the king of the palace came to meet
him. They talked for some time, and the king,
discovering that Ivan was his nephew, led him into
his room, and brought his brothers in also.
When they had been with him a long time, the
king gave them a magic ball, which the brothers
threw before them, and following it they came to a
high mountain at the foot of which they stopped to
rest. It was so high and so steep that no one could
climb up it. Ivan rode round it to discover some
means of getting to the top, and at last he found a
crevice into which he stepped. Then he saw an
iron door with an iron ring. When he had opened
the door he found some iron hooks Avhich he fastened
to his hands and feet. By means of these he con-
trived to climb to the top of the mountain. When
he reached the top he was very tired, and sat down
44 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
to rest, and as soon as ever he took off the hooks
they vanished. Afar off in the mountain he saw a
tent of fine cambric, on which was pictured a copper
kingdom, and on its summit was a copper ball. On
going to the tent he found at the entrance two large
lions, which refused to let him pass. Ivan, however,
saw two copper basins standing near, so he went
and got some water and gave it to the lions, who
were thirsty, and then they let him go into the
tent. When he had come there he saw a lovely
princess on a couch, and at her feet slept a
dreadful dragon, whose head Ivan cut off with
one blow. The princess thanked him, and gave
him a copper egg, in which was contained a
copper kingdom. Then the Czarewitch left her and
When he had gone a long way he saw a
tent of fine gauze hung from a cedar- tree by silver
cords. These cords had tassels of emeralds, and on
the tent was the picture of a silver kingdom. On
the summit of the tent was a silver ball. At the
entrance lay two large tigers. He satisfied their
thirst, as he had done that of the lions, and then
they let him pass. When he came into the tent
he saw a lovely princess dressed in very tine clothes,
and very much more beautiful than the former. At
her feet lay a dragon with six heads, and twice as
large as the first. With one blow Ivan cut off its
heads, and the princess rewarded his courage by
THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN. 45
giving him a silver egg, in which was a silver
kingdom. Then Ivan left her and went on.
At length he came to a third tent of silk, on
which was pictured a golden kingdom, and on its
summit was a ball of pure gold. The tent was
hung from a laurel-tree by gold cords, and the
tassels of the cords were composed of diamonds.
By the entrance lay two large crocodiles which
breathed out great flames. The Czarewitch gave
them some water, and thus got them to let him
enter the tent. Inside he found on a couch a
princess who even surpassed the two former ones
in beauty. At her feet lay a dragon with twelve
heads. Ivan cut off all the heads with one blow
of his sword, and the princess, thanking him, gave
him a golden egg, in which was a golden kingdom.
With it she also gave him her heart. As they
talked together, Ivan asked the princess if she could
tell him where he should find his mother, and she,
showing him where his mother dwelt, wished he
would have good fortune in his adventure.
He went on a long way and came to a palace,
and going in he passed through many rooms, but
he found no one in them. At last he came to a
large beautiful hall, and there he saw his mother,
dressed in royal robes, sitting on a chair. When
they had tenderly saluted, Ivan told her how he
and his brothers had travelled very far to seek her
whom they loved so much. The Czarina informed
46 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
Ivan that a spirit would soon come, and told him
to conceal himself under her cloak.
"When the spirit appears," said she, "seize his
magic wand with both hands. He will then fly
upwards with you, but do not be afraid, and be
quiet. After a time he will fall to the earth and
be dashed to pieces. You must gather these up,
burn them, and scatter the ashes on the field."
His mother had scarcely finished these words,
and hidden him under her cloak, before the spirit
appeared. Then Ivan sprang forward as his mother
had told him, and laid hold of the magic wand.
The spirit seized the Czarewitch, flew with him far
up, fell to the ground, and was dashed to pieces.
The Czarewitch gathered these together, and burnt
them, but kept the magic stick. Then he took his
mother and the three princesses whom he had
rescued, and, coming to an oak-tree, he let each one
of them slide down the mountain-side by means of
a linen cloth. When the brothers, who waited at
the foot of the mountain, saw that he alone remained
on the top, they tore the linen cloth out of his hand,
led away their mother and the three princesses to
their own kingdom, and made them take an oath
that they would tell their father that they had been
saved by them.
Ivan was thus left alone on the mountain, and
did not know how he could get down. He walked
about very sorrowfully, and happening to pass the
THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN. 47
magic wand from one hand to the other, a man
suddenly appeared before him, and said —
" What is your will, Ivan Czarewitch ? "
Ivan was much astonished to see the man, and
£»sked him who he was, and how he had come on
" I am a spirit," replied the man, " and was the
servant of him whom you have overcome. As you
have now his magic stick, and as you have passed
it from one hand to the other, as you always must
when you want me, I have come to perform what
" That is well," said Ivan to the spirit. " Do mo
your first service, then, and carry me into my own
Scarcely had he finished these words before he
found himself in his father's city.
He wanted to first know what was going on in the
palace, so instead of going straight in he went and
began work in a shoemaker's shop, for he thought no
one would quickly recognise him there. The next
morning the shoemaker went into town to buy some
leather, and came home in the evening very drunk.
So tipsy was he that he could not see to the shop,
so he left all to his new man. Ivan knew nothing
about the work, so he called the spirit to assist him,
and told him to set to and make some shoes while
he himself went to sleep. When the master awoke
early the next morning he went to see what work
48 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
his man had done, and when he found him still fast
asleep, he was very angry, and said —
" Ah ! you lazy fellow, do you think I took you
into my service to sleep 1 "
" Do not blame me," replied Ivan, stretching him-
self, "go first into the work-room, and see what you
The shoemaker went off, and how much was he
astonished to find there a number of shoes all
finished. He went to them and took up a shoe to
look at the work, but he was more astonished still,
and began to disbelieve his eyes, for there was not a
single stitch in the shoes, but they were all of one
piece. He took some of the shoes and set off to sell
them, and every one who saw the wonderful shoes
bought them eagerly. His fame spread, and in a
short time the shoemaker became so noted that they
sent for him to the palace. There he saw the
princesses, who ordered him to make them some
dozens of shoes, adding that they must all be ready
by the next morning. He told them that it was
impossible for him to do what they asked, but they
said that if he did not do what they told him he
should have his head cut off, for they declared they
well knew he made his shoes by some magic
The poor shoemaker left the castle, thinking he
was as good as a dead man, went into the city,
bought some leather, and went a-drinking to drive
THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN. 49
off care. Towards evening he came home, and
throwing the leather down upon the floor, said to
his new man —
" Listen, you wretched fellow, to what you have
done with your magic work."
So he told him all that had happened with the
princesses, and how he was to be put to death if he
did not do what they commanded,
"Don't be put out," said Ivan ; "lie down and go
to sleep. The morning will bring us good luck."
His master thanked him for what he said, laid
himself down on a bench, and very quickly began to
snore. Then Ivan called upon his spirit, ordered
him to make all ready, and went to sleep himself."
Though the shoemaker had been very drunk,
when he awoke early in the morning he remembered
that he was to have his head cut oflF that day. So
he went to his man and said —
" Let us have a bottle together, so that I may be
more courageous when I am under the axe."
"Do not fear," answered Ivan; "go into your
workshop. You will find that all is finished, and
ready to be taken to the palace."
The shoemaker walked off to the workshop, not
believing what Ivan said ; but when he saw all the
shoes ready, he was so delighted that he did not
know what to do. He embraced Ivan and called
him his saviour.
He took the shoes and set off to the palace ; and
50 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
when the princesses saw the shoes, they felt sure
that Ivan must be in the town, so they said to the
" You have well performed what you were ordered,
but you must do something more for us. This night
there must be built opposite our palace a golden
castle. There must be a porcelain bridge from the
one palace to the other, and this must be covered
The shoemaker was confounded at this, and said —
" I am only a poor shoemaker, how can I do such
a thing r'
" If you do not do what we tell you," said the
princesses, "your head shall be cut off."
The shoemaker went at once from the castle,
weeping bitterly. He turned in at an alehouse to
drown his care, got drunk, and when he reached
home told Ivan what he had been commanded.
" Go to sleep," said Ivan ; " to-morrow will bring
us good luck."
The shoemaker laid himself down on a bench and
went to sleep, and Ivan, calling the spirit to him,
told him to get everything ready as the shoemaker
had been commanded. After that he lay down, and
went to sleep also.
Early the next morning Ivan woke his master,
and putting the wing of a goose in his hand, said —
" Go at once to the bridge and dust it."
Ivan himself went into the golden palace. The
THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN. 51
Czar and his daughters woke very early, and came
out on the balcony, and from there they saw every-
thing. The princesses were beside themselves with
joy, for they were now sure that Ivan was in the
town, and soon after they saw him standing at a
window in the golden castle. Then they begged the
Czar and his wife to go with them into the castle,
and as they were about to go up the steps of the
palace, Ivan came out to meet them. His mother
and the princesses ran forward to embrace him, and
" This is he who rescued us."
His brothers were ashamed, and looked down on
the ground, and the Czar was thunderstruck, so
astonished was he. His wife, however, soon ex-
plained everything to him, and then the Czar was
so angry with his eldest sons that he would have
put them to death. Ivan threw himself at his feet,
and said —
" My dear father, if you wish to reward me for
my labour, grant me the lives of my brothers, and I
shall be satisfied."
Then his father raised him up, kissed him, and
" They are really unworthy of thee."
So they all went back to the castle.
The following day three weddings were celebrated.
The eldest son, Vasili, wedded the princess of the
copper kingdom. Fedor, the second son, married
52 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
the princess of the silver kingdom, and Ivan saw
them settled in their dominions. He himself and
his princess took possession of the golden kingdom.
He took the shoemaker with him, and there they all
lived for many years prosperous and happy.
THE DUCK THAT LAID GOLDEN EGGS.
There lived once an old man and his wife. The
man was called Abrosim, and his wife Fetinia.
They were very poor and miserable, and had a son
named Little Ivan, who was fifteen years old. One
day old Abrosim brought a crust of bread home for
his wife and son. He had scarcely begun to eat,
however, when Krutschina (Sorrow) sprang up from
behind the stove, seized the crust out of his hand,
and ran away behind the stove again. The old man
made a bow to Krutschina, and begged her to give
him the crust back again, as he and his wife had
nothing else to eat.
" I will not give you the crust again," said Krut-
schina, " but instead of it I will give you a duck
which lays a gold egg every day."
" Very well," said Abrosim. " I shall be supper-
less to-night. Do not deceive me, but tell me where
I shall find the duck."
" Early to-morrow morning," said Krutschina,
" when you are up, go into the town ; there you will
see a duck in a pond, catch it, and carry it home."
64 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
When Abrosim heard this he lay down and went
The next morning he rose early, and went to the
town, and was very much pleased to see the duck
swimming about on a pond. He called it to him,
carried it off to his home, and gave it to his wife
Fetinia. They were both delighted, and put the
duck in a big basin, placing a sieve over it. In an
hour's time they went to look at it, and discovered
that the duck had laid a golden egg. Then they
took the duck out, and let it walk a little on the floor,
and the old man, taking the egg, set off to town.
There he sold the egg for a hundred roubles, took
the money, and, going to the market, bought different
kinds of vegetables and set off home.
The next day the duck laid another egg like the
first, which Abrosim sold in the same manner. So
the duck went on laying a golden egg every day,
and the old man became, in a short time, very rich.
He bought a large house, a great many shops, all
kinds of wares, and set up in business.
His wife Fetinia made a favourite of a young
clerk in her husband's employ, and used to supply
him with money. One day when Abrosim was
away from home, buying some goods, the clerk
called to have a talk with Fetinia, and it chanced
that he then saw the duck that laid the golden eggs.
He was pleased with the bird, and, examining it,
found written under its wing in gold letters —
THE DUCK THAT LAID GOLDEN EGGS. 55
" Whoever eats this duck will be a Czar."
He did not say anything to Fetinia about what
he had seen, but asked her to roast the duck for
him. Fetinia said she could not kill the duck, for
all their fortune depended on it, but the clerk
begged her so earnestly that she at last consented
and killed it, and put it in the oven. The clerk
then went off saying he would return soon, and
Fetinia also went out in the town. While they
were gone in came little Ivan. He felt very
hungry, and, looking about him for something to
eat, he chanced to see the roast duck in the oven,
so he took it out and ate all of it but the bones.
Then he went off again to the shop.
In a little while the clerk came back, and, having
called Fetinia, asked her to bring out the duck.
The woman went to the oven, but when she saw
that the duck was not there, she was terribly put
out, and told the clerk that the duck had disappeared.
At that the clerk flew into a great rage, and said —
" You have eaten the duck yourself, of course,"
and he got up and walked out of the house.
In the evening Abrosim and his son, Little Ivan,
came home. When Abrosim did not see the duck,
he asked his wife where it was, and she told him
that she did not know. Then Little Ivan said to
his father —
"My dear father, when I came home, in the
middle of the day, for dinner, my mother was not
56 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
in, so I looked in the oven, and there found a roast
duck. I took it out and ate it all but the bones,
but I do not know whether it was our duck or a
Then old Abrosim was in such a rage that he
thrashed his wife till she was half dead, and he
turned Little Ivan out of doors.
Little Ivan began his journey. Where should
he go? He determined to follow his nose. For
ten days and nights he went on. Then he came to
a town, and as he stepped to the gate he saw a
great many people assembled together. Now these
folk had been taking council, their Czar being dead,
as to who should succeed him. In the end they
agreed that the first person who came in at the
city gate should be made Czar. Just then in came
Little Ivan through the gate, so all the people cried
out together —
" Here is our Czar ! "
The chief folk took Little Ivan by the arms,
conducted him to the royal apartments, put on him
the Czar's robes, seated him on the tlirone, made
obeisance to him as to their Czar, and waited for
his commands. Then Little Ivan thought he must
surely be asleep and dreaming all this ; but at last
he knew that he must be really Czar. He was
heartily pleased, began to rule over the people, and to
appoint his officers. A short time after he called
one of them, named Luga, to him, and said —
THE DUCK THAT LAID GOLDEN EGGS. 67
" My true friend and good knight Luga, I want
you to do me a service. Go to my own country,
go to the Czar, salute him from me, and ask him
to deliver to you the shopkeeper Abrosim and his
wife, so that you may bring them to me. If he
will not deliver them up to you, tell him that I
will lay waste his country with fire, and will make
him himself my prisoner."
When the servant Luga was come into Little
Ivan's country he went to the Czar and asked him
to let Abrosim and Fetinia go away with him. The
Czar was unwilling to let Abrosim go, for he wanted
to keep the rich merchant in his own country. He
knew, however, that Ivan's kingdom was verylargeand
populous, and being therefore afraid, he let Abrosim
and Fetinia depart. Luga received them from the
Czar, and conducted them to his own native country.
When he brought them to Little Ivan, the Czar
said to his father —
"Yes, father, you turned me away from your
house, and I therefore bring you to mine. Come,
live with me, you and my mother, till the end of
Abrosim and Fetinia rejoiced exceedingly to find
that their son was become Czar, and they lived
with him many years, until they died.
Little Ivan ruled for thirty years in good health,
and was very happy, and all his people loved him
sincerely to the last hour of his life.
EMELYAN THE FOOL.
In a certain village there once lived a peasant
who had three sons, of whom two were sensible,
but the third was a fool, and his name was Emelyan.
When the peasant had lived for a long time, and
was grown very old, he called his three sons to him,
and said to them —
" My dear children, I feel that I have not very
long to live, so I give you the house and cattle,
which you will divide, share and share alike, among
you. I also leave you, in money, a hundred
Soon after the old man died, and his sons, after
they had buried him, lived on happy and contented.
Some time after Emelyan's brothers took it into
their heads to remove into the city, and carry on
trade with the three hundred roubles which their
father had left them. So they said to Emelyan —
" Hark ye, fool ! we are going to the city, and
we will take your hundred roubles with us, and if
we prosper in trade we will buy you a red coat, red
boots, and a red cap. Do you, however, stay at home
EMELYAN THE FOOL, 59
here, and when your sisters-in-law desire you to do
anything, do as they bid you."
The fool, who had a great longing for a red coat,
a red cap, and red boots, answered at once that he
would do whatever his sisters-in-law told him. So
his brothers went off to the city, and Emelyan
stayed at home.
One day, when the winter was come and the cold
was great, his sisters-in-law told him to go out and
fetch in water, but Emelyan remained lying on the
stove, and said —
" Ay, and who, then, are you 1 "
*' How now, fool ! " said his sisters-in-law, " we
are what you see. You know how cold it is, and
that it is a man's business to go."
" I am lazy," replied he.
" How ! " cried they. " You are lazy ! You will
want to eat, and how can we cook if we have no
water? Very well, then, we will tell our husbands
not to give him anything when they have bought
the fine red coat and all for him."
The fool heard what they said, and, as he was
very desirous to get the red coat and cap, he saw
that he must go. So he got down from by the
stove, and began to put on his shoes and stockings,
and to dress himself. When he was ready he took
the buckets and the axe, and went down to the
river, which ran near their village. When he arrived
there, he cut an enormous hole in the ice. He then
60 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
drew water in the buckets, and, setting them on the
ice, he stood by the hole, looking into the water.
As he looked he saw a large pike swimming about
in the open water. Fool as Emelyan was he felt
a wish to catch this pike. So he stole on softly and
cautiously to the edge of the hole, and, making a
sudden grasp at the pike, he caught him, and pulled
him out of the water. Putting him in his bosom,
he was hurrying home, when the pike cried out —
" Ho, fool ! why have you caught me 1 "
" To take you home," answered he, " to get my
sisters-in-law to cook you."
" Ho, fool ! " said the pike ; *' do not take me
home, but let me go again into the water, and I
will make a rich man of you."
Emelyan, however, would not consent, and was
going on homewards. When the pike clearly saw
that the fool was not inclined to let him go, he
" Hark ye, fool ! let me go, and I will do for you
everything you do not like to do for yourself. You
will only have to wish, and it will be done."
When the fool heard that he rejoiced very much,
for, as he was uncommonly lazy, he thought to him-
" If the pike does everything that I have no mind
to do, all will be done without my having any
occasion to work."
So he said to the pike —
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 61
" I will let you go in the water if you will do all
" Let me go first," said the pike, " and then I will
keep my promise."
The fool, however, said that the pike must first
perform his promise, and then he would let him go.
When the pike saw he would not put him into the
water, he said —
" If you wish, as I told you, that I should do all
you desire, you must tell me now what your desire is."
" I wish," said the fool, " that my buckets should
go of themselves from the river up the hill, and that
without spilling any of the water."
Then said the pike —
" Kemember the words I now say, and listen to
what they are : ' At the pike's command, and at my
request, go, buckets, of yourselves up the hill.' "
The fool repeated after him —
" At the pike's command, and at my request, go,
buckets, of yourselves up the hill."
Instantly, with the speed of thought, the buckets
ran up the hill. When Emelyan saw that, he was
amazed beyond expression, and he said to the pike —
" But will it always be sol"
" Everything you desire will be done," said the
pike ; " but do not forget, I say, the words I have
Emelyan then put the pike into the water, and
followed his buckets home.
62 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The neighbours were all amazed when they saw
the buckets, and said to one another —
" This fool makes the buckets come of themselves
up from the river, and he follows them himself at
But Emelyan took no notice of them, and went on
home. The buckets were by this time in the house,
and standing in their place on the foot-bench, and
Emelyan himself lay down on the stove.
After some time his sisters-in-law said to him
"Emelyan, what are you loitering there for?
Get up and cut wood."
But the fool said —
" Ay ! and you ! who are you, then ? "
"You see," cried they, "it is now winter, and if
you do not go and cut wood you will be frozen."
" I am lazy," said the fool.
'* What ! you are lazy ! " said the sisters-in-law.
" If you do not get up and cleave wood, we will tell
our husbands not to give you the red coat, or the
red cap, or the fine red boots." The fool, who longed
for the red cap, coat, and boots, saw that he must
cleave the wood ; but as it was bitter cold, and he
did not like to leave the stove, he repeated, under
his breath, as he lay there : " At the pike's command,
and at my request, up, axe, and hew wood ; and do
you, logs, come of yourselves into the house and lay
yourselves in the stove."
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 63
The axe instantly jumped up, ran into the yard,
and began to cut up the wood, and the logs came of
themselves into the house, and M'ent and laid them-
selves in the stove. When the sisters-in-law saw
this they wondered exceedingly, and as the axe did
the work of itself whenever Emelyan was wanted
to cut up wood, he Jived with them for some time
in great tranquillity. At length the wood was cut,
and they said to him —
" Emelyan, we have no more wood, so you must
go to the forest to cut some."
" Ay," said the fool, " and you ! who are you,
then 1 "
" The wood," said the sisters-in-law, " is far off,
and it is winter, and too cold for us to go."
" I am lazy," said the fool,
" How ! you are lazy ! " said they, " you will be
frozen, then, and besides, when our husbands come
home we will tell them not to give you the red coat,
cap, and boots."
As the fool longed for the red clothes, he found
that he must go and cut the wood. So he got off
the stove, and began to put on his shoes and stock-
ings, and to dress himself. When he was dressed,
he went out into the yard, pulled the sledge out of
the shed, took a rope and the axe with him, mounted
the sledge, and called out to his sisters-in-law —
" Open the gate ! "
When the sisters-in-law saw that he was going
64 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
off in the sledge without any horses, for the fool
had not put the horses to it, they cried out —
" "Why, Emelyan, you have got on the sledge
without yoking the horses ! "
He answered that he did not want any horses, but
asked them to open the gate. The sisters-in-law
threw open the gate, and the ^ool, as he sat in the
sledge, said —
" At the pike's command, and at my request, away,
sledge, go to the wood."
At these words the sledge galloped out of the
yard at such a rate that the people of the village,
when they saw it, were filled with amazement.
The sledge went on so very fast, that if a pair of
horses had been yoked to it they could not have
drawn it at anything like the same rate.
As it was necessary for the fool to go through the
town on his way to the wood, he came to it at full
speed. Not knowing that he should cry out
" Make way ! " in order that he might not run over
any one, he gave no notice, but rode on. So he
ran over a great many people ; and though they ran
after him, no one was able to overtake him and
bring him back. Emelyan, having got clear of the
town, came to the wood, and stopped his sledge.
He then got down, and said —
" At the pike's command, and at my request, up,
axe, hew wood ; and you, logs, lay yourselves on the
sledge, and tie yourselves together."
EMELYAN THE FOOL, 65
The fool had scarcely uttered these words, when
the axe began to cut wood, the logs to lay themselves
in the sledge, and the rope to tie them down.
When the axe had cut wood enough, he desired it
to cut him a good cudgel, and when the axe had
done this he mounted the sledge, and said —
" Up and away ! At the pike's command, and at
my request, go home, sledge."
Away went the sledge at the top of its speed.
When Emelyan came to the town where he had
hurt so many people, he found a crowd waiting to
catch him, and as soon as he got into the town
they laid hold of him, and began to drag him off his
sledge and to beat him. When the fool saw how
they were treating him, he said under his breath —
"At the pike's command, and at my request, up,
cudgel, and thrash them."
Instantly the cudgel began to lay about it in all
directions, and when the people were all driven
away he made his escape, and came to his own
village. The cudgel, having thrashed them all
soundly, rolled to the house after him, and Emelyan,
as usual when he got home, lay down on the stove.
After he had left the town the people began every-
where to talk, not about the number of persons
whom he had injured, but about the amazing fact of
his riding in the sledge without horses ; and from
one to another the news spread till it reached the
court, and came even to the ears of the king. When
66 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
the king heard the story he felt an extreme desire
to see Emelyan, so he despatched an officer with a
party of soldiers in search of him. The officer
whom the king sent lost no time in leaving the
town, and he took the road that the fool had taken.
When he came to the village where Emelyan lived,
he summoned before him the Starosta (Head-man)
of the village, and said to him —
" I am sent by the king to take a certain fool, and
bring him before his majesty."
The Starosta at once showed him the house where
Emelyan lived, and the officer, entering it, asked
where the fool was. Emelyan, who was lying on
the stove, made answer and said —
" What is it you want with me 1 "
" How ! " said the officer. " What do I want
with you ? Get up and dress yourself. I must take
you to the king."
" What to do 1 " asked Emelyan.
The officer was so enraged at the rudeness of his
replies, that he gave him a slap on the cheek.
" At the pike's command, and at my request," said
the fool, under his breath, " up, cudgel, and thrash
At the word, up sprang the cudgel, and began to
lay about it on all sides, on officer and on men alike.
The officer was forced to go back to town as fast as
he could ; and when he came before the king, and
told him how the fool had cudgelled them all round,
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 67
the king marvelled greatly, and would not believe
that he had been able to cudgel them at all.
The king then selected a wise man, command-
ing him to bring him the fool by craft, if nothing
else would do. The envoy left the king, and went
to the village where Emelyan lived. He called the
Starosta before him, and said —
" I am sent by the king to take your fool. So do
you send for those with whom he lives."
The Starosta then ran and fetched the sisters-in-
law. The king's messenger asked them what it was
the fool liked, and they answered —
" Noble sir, if any one entreats our fool earnestly
to do anything, he flatly refuses the first and the
second time. The third time, however, he does not
refuse, but does what one wants, for he does not like
to be roughly handled."
The king's messenger then dismissed them, charging
them not to tell Emelyan that he had summoned them
before him. He then bought raisins, baked plums,
and grapes, and went to the fool. When he came
into the room, he went up to the stove, and said —
" Emelyan, why are you lying there 1 " and with
that he gave him the raisins, baked plums, and
grapes, and said —
" Emelyan, we will go together to the king. I
will take you with me."
" I am very warm here," said the foOl, for there
was nothing he was so fond of as warmth.
68 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The messenger then began to entreat him.
"Be so good, Emelyan," said he; "let us go.
You will like the court vastly."
"Ay," said the fool ; "I am lazy."
The messenger began once more to entreat him.
" Be so good," said he ; " come with me, and the
king will get you made a fine red coat, a red cap,
and a pair of red boots."
When the fool heard the red coat mentioned, he
" Gro on before, I will follow."
The messenger then pressed him no further, but
went out and asked the sisters-in-law if there was
any danger of the fool's deceiving him. They assured
him that there was not, and he went his way. The
fool, who was still lying on the stove, then said to
" How I hate this going to the king ! "
Then after a few minutes' thought —
" At the pike's command, and at my request," said
he, " up stove, and away to the town."
Instantly the wall of the room opened, and the
stove moved out. When it had got clear of the
yard, it went at such a rate that there was no over-
taking it, and it came up with the king's messenger,
and went after him, and entered the palace with
him. When the king knew the fool had come, he
went forth with all his ministers to see him, and
when he saw that Emelyan was come riding on the
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 69
sfcove, he was greatly amazed. Emelyan still lay
where he was, and said nothing. Then the king
asked him why he had hurt so many people when
he went to the wood.
" It was their own fault," said the fool ; " why
did they not get out of the way 1 "
Just at that moment the king's daughter came to
the window and looked at the fool, and Emelyan,
happening suddenly to look up at the window where
she stood observing him, and seeing that she was
very handsome, said, quite softly to himself —
" At the pike's command, and at my request, let
this lovely maiden fall in love with me."
Scarcely had he spoken the words, when the
king's daughter was desperately in love with him.
He then said —
" At the pike's command, and at my request, up
and away, stove, go home."
Immediately the stove left the palace, went
through the town, got home, and set itself in its old
place. There Emelyan lived for some time, com-
fortable and happy.
Other people in the town, however, were far other-
wise. At the word of Emelyan the king's daughter
had fallen in love with him, and she began to implore
her father to give her the fool for a husband. The
king was in a great rage, both with her and the
fool, but he knew not how he could lay hold of him.
His minister, however, suggested that he should
70 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
again send the officer whom he had before sent to
take him. This advice pleased the king well, and
he had the officer called to him. When he came the
king said —
" Hark ye, friend ! I sent you before for the fool,
and you came without him. To punish you I now
send you for him a second time. If you bring him
you shall be rewarded, but if you do not bring him
you shall be punished."
When the officer heard that, he left the king, and
lost no time in going in quest of the fool. When
he came to the village, he called for the Starosta,
and said to him —
" Here is money for you. Buy everything for a
good dinner to-morrow. Invite Emelyan, and when
he comes make him drink till he falls asleep."
The Starosta, knowing that the officer came from
the king, felt obliged to obey him, so he bought
everything that was required, and invited the fool.
When Emelyan said he would come, the officer was
greatly pleased. So next day the fool came to
dinner, and the Starosta plied him so well with
drink that he fell fast asleep. As soon as the officer
saw he was asleep, he laid hold of him, and ordered
a carriage to be brought. When it came, they put
the fool in it, and the officer, getting in himself,
drove off to the town, and so to the palace. The
minister informed the king that the officer had come,
and as soon as he heard it, he ordered a large cask
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 71
to be provided without delay, and to be hooped with
strong iron hoops. When the cask was brought to
the king, and he saw that everything had been done
as he desired, he ordered his daughter and the fool
to be put into it and the cask to be well pitched.
When all this had been done, the king ordered the
cask to be thrown into the sea, and left to the mercy
of the waves. The king then returned to his palace,
and the cask floated along for some time on the sea.
All this time the fool was fast asleep. When he
awoke, and found it was quite dark, he said to
" Where am I ? " for he thought he was all alone ;
but the princess said —
" You are in a cask, Emelyan, and I am shut up
with you in it."
" But who are you 1 " asked he.
" I am the king's daughter," answered the princess ;
and then she told him why she had been shut up
there with him. She then besought him to deliver
himself and her out of the cask, but the fool
*' I am very warm here."
" Grant me the favour," said the princess ; " have
pity on my tears, and deliver me out of this cask."
" Why," said Emelyan; " I am lazy."
The princess began once more to entreat him.
"Grant me the favour, Emelyan," said she;
" deliver me out of this cask, and let me not die."
72 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The fool was moved by her tears and entreaties,
and said —
"Well, I will do this for you."
He then said softly —
" At the pike's command, and at my request, cast
us, sea, on the shore, where we may dwell on a
dry place, only let us be near our own country, and
do thou, cask, fall to pieces on the dry land."
Scarcely had the fool spoken the words, when the
waves began to roll, and the cask was thrown up
on a dry place and fell to pieces of itself. Emelyan
got up and went with the princess about the place
where they were cast. The fool saw that they were
in a very fine island, where there was an abundance
of trees, with all kinds of fruit on them. When
the princess saw that, she rejoiced greatly at their
being on such an island, and she said —
" But, Emelyan, where shall we live 1 there is not
even a nook here."
" You want too much," said the fool.
" Grant me the favour," said the princess ; " let
there be, if nothing more, a little cottage in which
we may shelter us from the rain " — for the princess
knew he could do anything he wished.
" I am lazy," said the fool.
The princess began again to urge him, and
Emelyan, overcome by her entreaties, was obliged
to do as she desired.
He went away from her, and said— ^
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 73
" At the pike's command, and at my request, let
me have, in the middle of this island, a finer castle
than the king's, and let a crystal bridge lead from
my castle to the royal palace, and let there be
people of all conditions in the court."
The words were scarcely spoken than there
appeared a splendid castle with a crystal bridge.
The fool went with the princess into the castle,
and saw that the apartments were all magnificently
furnished, and that there were many people there,
such as footmen, and all kinds of officers, who
waited for the fool's commands. When he saw
that all these men were like men, and that he alone
was ugly and stupid, he wished to be better, so he
" At the pike's command, and at my request, let
me become such a youth that I shall have no equal,
and let me be extremely wise."
He had scarcely spoken the words before he
became so handsome and so wise that all were
Emelyan then sent one of his servants to the
king to invite him and all his ministers to the
castle. The servant went along the bridge which
the fool had made, and when he came to the court
the ministers brought him before the king, and
Emelyan's messenger said —
" Please your majesty, I am sent by my master
to ask you to dinner."
74 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The king asked him who his master was, but he
"Please your majesty, I can tell you nothing
about my master, but if you come to dine with him
he will inform you himself."
The king, who was curious to know who it was
who had sent to invite him, told the messenger that
he would come without fail.
The servant went away, and when he got home
the king and his ministers set out along the crystal
bridge to visit the fool. When they arrived at the
castle, Emelyan came forth to meet the king, took
him by the white hands, kissed him on the mouth,
led him into his castle, and made him sit behind
the oak tables, with fine diapered table-cloths, at
sugar-meats and honey- drinks. The king and his
ministers ate and drank, and made themselves
merry. When they got up from table and retired,
the fool said to the king —
"Does your majesty know who I amT'
As Emelyan was now dressed in fine clothes, and
was very handsome, it was not possible to recognise
him ; so the king said that he did not know him.
Then said the fool —
" Does not your majesty recollect how a fool came
on a stove to your court, and how you fastened
him up in a pitched cask with your daughter, and
cast them into the sea ] Know me then now, for
I am that Emelyan."
EMELYAN THE FOOL. 75
When the king saw him thus before him, he was
greatly terrified, and knew not what to do. But
the fool went to the king's daughter, and brought
her out to him. When the king saw her he was
very pleased, and said —
" I have been very unjust towards you, so I give
you my daughter for your wife."
Hearing that, Emelyan thanked the king, and
when he had prepared everything for the wedding,
it was celebrated with great magnificence, and the
following day Emelyan gave a feast to the ministers
and to the common people. There were barrels of
wine set forth ; and when all these festivities were
at an end, the king wanted to give up his kingdom
to him, but Emelyan had no mind to take it. So
the king went back to his kingdom, and Emelyan
remained in his castle, and lived happily.
ILTJA, THE MUROMEK.
In the celebrated city of Murom, near to Katat-
scharowa, there lived a countryman named Ivan
Timofejevitch. He had one son named Ilija, the
Muromer, and of him he was very fond. He was
thirty years old when he began to walk. Then, all
of a sudden, not only did he become strong enough
to go about, but also made himself a suit of armour
and a steel spear. Then he saddled his horse, went
to his father and mother, and asked them for their
blessing, saying —
"Father and mother of mine, let me go to the
celebrated town of Kiev, to pray to God and to see
His father and mother gave him their blessing,
and said to him —
" Go, then, to the town of Kiev, to the town of
Tschernigof, and do no wrong on your way, and
spill no Christian blood wantonly."
Ilija, the Muromer, received their blessing, and
prayed to God. Then he bid his parents farewell,
and went on his way. He travelled so far in a
ILIJA, THE MTJROMER. 77
dark forest that at length he came to the hold ot
some robbers. As soon as the robbers saw the
Muromer, they began to wish for his beautiful
horse, and they said one to another —
"Let us seize this horse, which is so beautiful
that its like has never been seen, and let us take it
from this unknown fellow."
So they all, five-and-twenty, set upon Ilija, the
Muromer. Ilija reined in his horse, took an arrow
out of his quiver, put it on the string of his bow,
and shot it into the ground with so much force that
the pieces of earth flew over three acres. When
the robbers saw that they looked at one another
with astonishment. Then they threw themselves
on their knees, and said —
" Master and father, we have wronged you. If
you want to punish us take our treasure, our fine
clothes, and as many of our horses as you like."
"What should I do with your treasure?" said
Ilija. " If you want to keep your lives, see that you
do not do the like in future." So he went on to
famous Kiev. He came at length to the town of
Tschemigof, and found it beset by an army of
pagans, so great that no one could tell their number.
They wanted to destroy the town, tear down the
churches, and carry off the princes and nobles as
slaves. When Ilija, the Muromer, saw the army he
was afraid, but he placed confidence in the Highest,
and braced himself up to die for the Christian
78 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
religion. So he attacked the pagan army, put them
to flight, took the chiefs prisoners, and carried them
to Tschernigof. When he came to the city the
folk ran out to meet him, the prince and the nobles
coming first. They gave him thanks, and then went
with him to offer up praise to God, who had pre-
served the town safe, and not allowed it to be
overthrown by so large an army.
Then they conducted Ilija to the palace, and en-
tertained him at a great feast. After that Ilija, the
Muromer, went straight on to Kiev, along a road
which the Eobber Nightingale had kept for thirty
years, and on which he suffered no horseman or
traveller on foot to pass, putting them to death, not
by the sword, but by the sound of his robber whistle.
When Ilija came into the open fields he rode on to
the Bianski forest, and went far on, passing over
marshes, by means of bridges made of water-elder, to
the river Smarodienka. When the Robber Night-
ingale saw him about twenty versts away, he guessed
his errand, and sounded his robber whistle. But the
hero did not quail, and came on till he was only ten
versts off, when the robber blew his whistle so loudly
that Ilija's horse fell down on its knees. Then Ilija
went up to the robber's nest, which was built upon
twelve oaks. When the robber saw the hero he
blew with all his might and tried to kill him, but
Ilija took his bow, put a new arrow on the string,
shot it straight into the robber's nest, and hit the
ILIJA, THE MUROMER. 79
robber in the right eye. Robber Nightingale fell
down from the tree like a sheaf of oats.
Ilija, the Muromer, took him, bound him fast to
his saddle, and rode away to Kiev. At the side of
the road stood the palace of Eobber Nightingale,
and as he rode by the robber's daughters were
sitting at the open window.
"There comes our father," said the youngest,
" riding, and bringing with him a peasant, tied to
The eldest looked at him carefully, and began to
" It is not our father," said she, " that rides
there, but a strange man who has made him
Then they called out to their husbands —
"Dear husbands, ride out against this stranger,
and deliver our father from him. Let not such
shame come on us ! "
Their husbands were mighty riders, and they
came out to attack the Russian horseman ; and they
had good horses and sharp lances, and thought it
would be an easy matter to kill him. When Robber
Nightingale saw them, he called out and said —
" My dear sons, let no shame come on you, and do
not attack so brave a knight, for if you do he will
but slay you. Ask him, rather, to enter the house
and drink with us."
When Ilija heard the invitation he turned to
80 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
enter the palace, suspecting no treachery ; but the
eldest daughter had hung a beam, by means of a
chain, over the entrance, so that she might kill him
as he rode through. When Ilija saw that he gave
her a stroke with his lance and killed her. Then
he rode on to Kiev and came to the prince's palace.
He entered the palace, prayed to God, and saluted
" Tell me, my good young man," said the prince,
"what is your name, and to what place you
" I am called Little Ilija, sir," said he ; " my father
is Ivan, and I was born in the town of Murom,
near to Katatscharowa."
The prince next asked him by what road he had
" From Murom I rode to Tschernigof, and there I
slew a great host of pagans and saved the city.
From that place I came here. I have taken prisoner
the famous Kobber Nightingale, and I have brought
him here bound to my stirrup."
Then the prince grew angry, and said —
" Why do you try to deceive me 1 "
However, he sent two knights, Alescha Popo-
witsch and Dobrinja Nikititsch, to see if it was as
Ilija said ; and when they told the prince that it was
true, he was pleased, gave the young man some
drink, and desired to hear the robber's whistle.
Ilija, the Muromer, therefore wrapped up the prince
ILIJA, THE MUROMER. 81
and the princess under his cloak, lined with sable,
put them under his arm, and then told the Eobber
Nightingale to blow his whistle gently. He blew,
however, so loud that he deafened all the knights
and they fell on the floor, and Ilija, the Muromer,
was so enraged that he killed him there and
Ilija became very friendly with Dobrinja Nikit-
itsch, and, saddling their good horses, they rode
away together, and travelled for three months with-
out meeting with any adversary. Then they came
up with a cripple. His beggar's cloak weighed fifty
pounds, his hat nine pounds, and his crutch was six
feet long. Ilija, the Muromer, rode up to him
and began to try his courage, but the cripple
addressing him said —
" Ah ! Ilija, the Muromer, do you not know me ?
Do you not remember how we learnt lessons in the
same school 1 Will you fall on me, a poor cripple 1
Do you know that there is great distress in the
famous town of Kiev 1 A powerful infidel knight,
a godless idolater, has come there. His head is as
big as a beer-barrel, his eyebrows are a span apart,
and his shoulders are six feet across. He eats an
ox at a meal, and drinks a cask of beer at a time.
The Prince is sore troubled at your absence."
Then Ilija, the Muromer, put on the cripple's
cloak and rode oflF to Kiev. He went to the palace,
and cried with all his might —
82 RUSSIAN AND POIJSH FOLKLORE.
" Ho, there ! Prince of Kiev, give the cripple an
When the Prince heard him, he said —
" Come into my palace. I will give you something
to eat and drink, and some money for your journey."
Then Ilija went into the palace and sat down
near the stove, and there also sat the pagan knight
calling for food to be brought. The servants brought
him an ox, roasted whole, and he ate it up, bones
and all. Then he called for something to drink,
and twenty-seven men brought him a barrel of beer.
The knight took it in his hands and lifted it up.
Then Ilija, the Muromer, said —
"My father once had a gluttonous mare, which
ate so much that it burst."
The infidel was angry, and said —
" "What do you mean, you wretched cripple 1 You
are no equal for me. I could set you on the palm
of my right hand and squeeze you dry with my left.
You once had a real hero in your country, Ilija, the
Muromer ; I should like to have a fight with him."
" Here he is," cried Ilija, taking off his hat, and
striking the pagan a blow on the head, not very
hard, but so strong as to send the head through the
wall of the palace. Ilija then took up the body and
cast it into the yard. So the prince gave Ilija a
royal reward, and kept him at his court as the first
J^nd the bravest of his knights.
THE BAD-TEMPERED WIFE.
There was once upon a time a poor fellow who
was troubled with a wife, with whom he lived on the
worst terms imaginable. She paid not the slightest
attention to what he told her, but was always
contrary. If he told her to get up early, she was
sure to lie in bed later than ever, or perhaps even
for three days at a time. If he asked her to make
some cakes, she would say —
" Cakes, you villain ! What do you want with
cakes 1 Do you think you deserve them 1 "
"All right," the man would say; "don't make
Then off would go his wife, make three times as
many cakes as could be eaten, and plumping them
down before her husband —
" Eat," she would cry — "eat, you gluttonous fellow!
They must be finished up."
The man spent most of his time disputing with
her ; but his wife used to wear him out and get the
better in the end.
One day, wearied by his wife's jangle, and utterly
dispirited, he went off to the wood to look for some
84 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
berries. As he went on he came at last to a wild
currant-bush, and looking at it he saw beside it a
deep hole. He looked down, but could discover no
bottom to it.
" Dear me ! " said he, " I wish my wife were
down there ! What is the use of living as I do in
continual misery ? I will see if I can get her down
Off he went home. There he found his wife.
" Wife," said he, " I want you to keep out of the
wood. Don't go looking about there for berries."
*' You want me ! " said she. " Indeed, I shall go
where I please."
" Well," said the man, " I have found a currant-
bush there, and I want to keep the currants. Don't
" Won't I ? " said his wife. " I' will eat them all.
You shall not have a single one."
The man went out, and his wife came after him
to find the currant-bush. On they went till the
man came to the place where the bush was, when
his wife, hurrying past him, got to it first.
" Now don't you come near," said she. * I warn
you to stand oS."
On she went ; all at once her husband heard a
crack and a crash. He looked about, but could not
see his wife. Sure enough, she had fallen down the
The man returned home rejoicing at the success
THE BAD-TEMPERED WIFE. 85
of his plan. For some days he lived in peace.
Then he became curious to know where his wife
had really gone to. So he got a very long cord, and
set oflF with it to the forest. He came to the currant-
bush and found the hole, and, letting down one end
of his cord, tried to touch the bottom. The cord
went down and down — the hole seemed to have no
bottom at all. Then the man drew the cord up.
As he pulled out the last piece of it, he fell back
astounded, for there, clinging to it, was a little devil.
After the first surprise, the man was about to lay
his hands on the imp in order to throw him down
the hole again; but it addressed him in a pitiful
tone, saying —
" My good man, I beseech you do not throw me
down the hole again. No tongue can tell what I
have suffered there. A few days since there came a
woman amongst us, and she has led us such a time
of it that our lives are not worth living. Let me
stay aboveground, and I will reward you for it."
The peasant, when he heard the imp's tale, felt
sorry for him, and had not the heart to send him
back again. So he let him go where he would.
No sooner was the imp at liberty than he began
to torment the wives and daughters of the wealthy
folk, entering into them, and making them so
whimsical and sick that they seemed beside them-
selves. While they were in this condition the peasant
would present himself as a physician and undertake
86 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
to cure the afflicted persons. As soon as he was
called in, before he had almost stepped across the
threshold of the house in which the sick person lay,
the imp would scuttle away as fast as he could, the
patient recovered, and the whole place rang with the
marvellous cure effected by the doctor. So they
went on for some time. The peasant was now rich.
Money and all good things were heaped upon him
by the relations of those whom he restored to
One day the imp said to him —
" My man, I have had enough of this kind of
thing. I am now going to take possession of a rich
man's daughter. Don't you come to heal her, for I
warn you that if you do so I will tear you to pieces."
Away he went. The daughter was possessed,
and was so beside herself that no one dare venture
near her. Away sent her relations for the wonder-
ful doctor. The peasant, however, was unwilling to
take the case in hand. He would not come. At last
the folk sent their servants to bring him to the
house by force, declaring that if he refused to come
they would kill him.
The man did not know what to do ; at last he
thought he saw his way out of the difficulty.
In the road running beside the house he collected
a number of coachmen, grooms, and others, and
ordered them to run up and down, smacking their
whips and crying as loudly as they could —
THE BAD-TEMPERED WIFE. 87
"That wretched woman has come again! that
wretched woman has come again ! "
When the hubbub was at its full height the
peasant went into the house.
" What ! " cried the imp. " You have come, have
you ? Well then, now, I will make you repent it."
" My dear friend," said the man, " it is true I
have come, but I came to do you a service. I came
to tell you that that miserable woman has come
" What ! " cried the imp.
He leaped to the window, looked out, and listened.
When he saw the confusion, and heard the cries —
"That wretched woman has come again! that
wretched woman has come again ! " he turned to the
peasant, and said to him, in a tone full of anxiety
and mournfulness —
" What shall I do 1 Where can I hide from her ? "
" I don't know," said the man, " but I should say
the hole would be the safest place. She will hardly
search there a second time for you."
Away went the imp at full speed, and, coming to
the hole, down he went headlong. He was never
seen again. The girl was completely cured when he
left her, and was as happy as ever, and her parents
heaped rewards on the wonderful physician.
The bad-tempered woman, too, never made her
appearance again, so it seems as if she would
remain down the pit for ever.
IVASHKA WITH THE BEAE'S EAR
Once upon a time there lived in a certain
kingdom a moujik. He was married^ and his wife
bore him a child — a boy — who had the ear of a bear,
so he was named Ivashka with the Bear's Ear,
Ivashka used to go and play with the children of
his neighbours, but his manner was rather rough,
for if he took hold of a child by the hand he would
give it such a wrench that the hand would come off,
and if he took hold of a child by the head, the
head would come off too. Such play was not
agreeable to the parents of the children, and they
came to Ivashka's father and told him that he must
see that his son did not come out to play with their
children, or that he did them no hurt. The man
promised to do what he could. He found, however,
that Ivashka paid no heed to him, so in the end he
turned him out of doors, saying —
" Be off where you will, for I want you no longer ;
you shall come no more into my house, for if you
do you will get me into trouble."
So Ivashka with the Bear's Ear set off on his
IVASHKA WITH THE BEAR's EAR. 89
travels. He went on for a long time, and at last
came to a great forest. There he found a man
" Friend," said Ivashka to him, " what are you
" I am called Dubunia," said the man.
" Well," said Ivashka, " let us be friends."
After some talk they became very friendly, and
the man went on with Ivashka. They travelled for
some time, and at length they came to a high rock,
where they found a man hewing stone.
" Heaven bless you, good fellow ! " said Ivashka;
" what are you called 1 "
"Gorunia,"* replied the man.
" Well," said Ivashka, " let us be friends."
After some talk the man became very friendly
with Ivashka and his companion, and agreed to go
on with them in their travels. On they went. At
last they came to a river, on the bank of which they
found a man with very long moustaches, with which
he was fishing in the water.
" Heaven bless you ! " said Ivashka and his com-
panions. " May you have good luck."
" Thanks, my brothers," said the man.
" What are you called 1 " asked Ivashka.
"Usunia," said he.
" Well," said Ivashka, " let us be friends."
So, after some talk, the man agreed to join
Ivashka and his companions.
90 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The four went on, and at length they came to a
forest, near to which they found a hut. Now the hut
stood on a fowl's legs, and kept turning round and
" Hut, hut," cried Ivashka, " stand still with your
back to the forest and your front towards us ! "
The hut at once did what they told it, and the
four travellers going in commenced to plan how
they should live. They were very hungry, so they
went into the forest, caught some game, and ate it.
The next day Dubunia stayed at home while the
others went into the forest to look for game. He
cooked the dinner, and waited for his companions
to come back. They did not come, so Dubunia
washed his head and sat combing his hair, and who
should come into the hut but Baba Yaja. She came
riding in an iron mortar, which she drove on with a
pestle, and with her tongue she wiped out the marks
the mortar made as it passed over the ground. As
she came into the cabin —
" Ho, ho ! " cried she, " I smell Eussian flesh."
Then she turned to Dubunia and said —
" What do you do here ? "
Without waiting for his reply, Baba Yaja laid on
him with her pestle, and beat him until he hardly
had any life left in him. Then she ate the dinner
he had got ready for his companions, got into her
mortar, and rode off. Dubunia lay for some time
on the ground. Then he got up, tied up his head
IVASHKA WITH THE BEAR'S EAR. 91
with a handkerchief, and sat down, groaning, till his
companions came home,
" Where is the dinner ? " said they.
" I have been ill," answered Dubunia, and have
been too unwell to get it ready."
The next day Gorunia was left to keep the hut
and get the dinner ready. He cooked the food, and
waited for his friends to come back, when, all of a
sudden, who should come in but Baba Yaja.
" Ho, ho ! " said she, " I smell Eussian flesh.
What are you doing here 1 " she asked, turning to
Without giving him time to reply she com-
menced to beat him with the pestle. Then she
ate up all the food he had ready, got into the
mortar, and rode away. When his friends came
home Gorunia told them what had happened.
On the third day Usunia stayed at home, and Baba
Yaja made her appearance again, and treated him as
she had his companions.
At length it was Ivashka's turn to keep house.
His comrades went out to hunt in the wood, and
Ivashka got the dinner ready. Looking about the
hut he found in it a jar of honey. Then Ivashka
took an axe and split open one of the posts of the
hut, and putting a piece of wood in at the top he
kept the crack open. Then he took the honey and
poured it all over the post and in the chink. After
that he got three iron rods, and then he sat down
92 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
to await Baba Yaja's coming. He did not wait
long, for she came riding to the hut in her mortar.
" Ho, ho ! " cried she, as she entered, " I smell
Russian flesh. What do you here?" said she,
turning to Ivashka.
Just then, however, she smelt the honey, and,
going to the post, she commenced to lick it with her
long tongue. She licked all the honey off the
outside, and then put her tongue in the crack, to get
the honey out that was there. Then Ivashka
suddenly pulled out the piece of wood that held
the post asunder, and Baba Yaja's tongue being held
fast, she could not get away. She screamed and
struggled, but could not free herself, and Ivashka,
taking his three iron rods, commenced to beat her
with all his strength. He beat her till he was tired ;
and then, as she begged him to have mercy on her,
and promised that if he would let her go she would
never trouble him more, he set her free.
" Stop there," said he, putting her in a corner of
the cabin. So he sat down and waited for his
companions to come home. Towards evening they
came, and how much were they surprised to find
that Ivashka had the food cooked and ready for
them ! When they had eaten he told them how he
had served Baba Yaja, and how he had beaten her and
put her in the corner of the hut. When they went
to look for her, however, she was nowhere to be
seen. While they examined the place to find how
IVASHKA WITH THE BEAR's EAR. 93
she could have escaped, they discovered a large stone
in the ground. Lifting it up they found there was
a deep pit below. They wished very much to know
what was in this place, but none durst go down, till
Ivashka said he would go. So they made a rope
and let him down.
" Wait for me," said Ivashka ; " but if I do not
come back at the end of a week, know then that
you will see me no more. When I want to come
up I will pull the rope." So he took leave of his
companions, and they let him down. When he
arrived at the bottom of the pit he found himself
in a strange country. He went on for some time
until he came to a hut, and, going in, he found three
girls who sat sewing with gold thread.
" What do you want ? " said they, when they saw
Ivashka with the Bear's Ear. " What has brought
you here 1 Baba Yaja, our mother, lives here, and
if she sees you she will certainly kill you. We will,
however, tell you how you may save your life if you
will take us to the upper world."
Ivashka promised to do what they asked.
"When our mother comes in," said they, " she will
run at you and attack you. When you have fought for
a time she will leave you and go to the cellar. There
are two jars full of water: the one is white and
the other is blue. The white jar contains the water
of weakness, and the blue jar the water of strength.
If you drink the water in the blue jar you are saved."
94 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The girls had scarcely finished speaking when
Baba Yaja was heard coming to the hut. She
came riding in the iron mortar, which she drove
along with the pestle, while, with her tongue, she
swept out the mark made by the mortar as it passed
over the ground.
" Ho, ho ! " said she, " I smell Russian flesh. Why
do you come here ? " she went on, turning to Ivashka
with the Bear's Ear. " What do you want ? "
With that she rushed upon him, and they fought
together until they were so tired that they fell to
the ground. Then Baba Yaja, getting up, ran to the
cellar for the water, and Ivashka went after her.
Baba Yaja, in her hurry, took up the white jar and
drank the water, and Ivashka drank that in the
blue jar. Then they began to fight again. At
length Ivashka got the better of her, and taking
her pestle he beat her with it till she begged him to
have mercy on her. Still Ivashka would not stop
till she promised him she would never do him any
injury, and would leave that place as soon as he
released her. So he let her go.
Ivashka went to the three daughters and told
them to get ready and go with him to the world
above. Then he went to the rope, and, calling to
his companions, got them to let down a large basket.
He told the eldest daughter to get into it, and then,
on Ivashka's pulling the rope, his companions drew
the basket up. They were very much astonished
IVASHKA WITH THE BEAR'S EAR. 95
when they found a beautiful girl in the basket in-
stead of Ivashka, but she told them all that had
occurred, and they let the basket down again. So
the second and the third daughters were drawn up.
Then they let down the basket again, and Ivashka
filled it with gold and silver and fine clothes, which
he had found in Baba Yaja's hut. When the men
commenced to draw the basket up they wondered
why it was so heavy, and they thought that Baba
Yaja herself must be in it. So they cut the rope
and let the basket and all the things fall down to
the bottom, and left Ivashka down below.
For a long time he wandered about seeking his
way to the upper world. At length he found an
iron door in the rock, and on opening it and looking
in he saw a long passage. So he went on and on
till at last he came out in the upper world. Then
he went to seek his friends. When he came to
them he found that they had given him up as dead,
and had married the three daughters of Baba Yaja.
" Why did you leave me at the bottom of the
pit 1 " asked Ivashka ; " and who was it that cut the
rope ? "
They told him that Usunia had done it, and
Ivashka was so angry that he killed him on the
spot. So Ivashka married Usunia's wife, and he
and his companions lived together for many years
in great happiness.
A Russian peasant sat out in the field. The sun
was shining fiercely. In the distance the man saw
something coming to him. It came nearer, and
then he saw it was a woman. She was clad in a
large cloak, and strode along with great strides.
The man felt much afraid, and would have run away,
but the phantom held him with its bare arms.
" Do you know the Plague 1 " said she. " I am it.
Take me on your shoulders and carry me through
all Russia. Miss no village or town, for I must go
everywhere. For yourself fear nothing. You shall
live in the midst of death."
She wrapt her long arms round the neck of the
fearful peasant. The man went on, and was asto-
nished to find that he felt no weight. He turned
his head, and saw that the Plague was on his back.
He first took her to a town, and when they
came there there was joy in all the streets, dancing,
music, and jollity. The peasant went on and stood
in the market-place, and the woman shook her
cloak. Soon the dance, joy, and merriment ceased.
THE PLAGUE. 97
Wherever the man looked he saw teiTor. People
carried coflSns, the bells tolled, the burial-grouud
was full ; there was at length no room for more to
be buried in it.
Then the people brought the dead to the market-
place and left them there, having no place in which
to bury them.
The wretched man went on. Whenever he came
to a village the houses were left deserted, and the
peasants fled with white faces, and trembling with
fear. On the roads, in the woods, and out in the
fields, could be heard the groans of the dying.
Upon a high hill stood the man's own village, the
place in which he was born, and to this place the
Plague began to direct his steps. There were the
man's wife, his children, and his old parents.
The man's heart was bleeding ! When he came
near his own village, he laid hold of the Plague so
that she should not escape him, and held her with
all his might.
He looked before him and saw the blue Pruth
flowing past, and beyond it were the green hills, and
afar oflf the dark mountains with snow-capped tops.
He ran quickly to the stream and leaped under
its waters, wishing to destroy himself and his burden
together, and so free his land from sorrow and the
He himself was drowned, but the Plague, being
as light as a feather, slipped off his shoulders, and
98 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
SO escaped. She was, however, so alarmed by this
brave deed that she fled away and hid herself in the
So the man saved his village, his parents, his wife,
and his little children, and all that part of fair
Kussia through which the Plague had not passed.
THE PEASANT AND THE WIND.
Once upon a time there was a peasant who lived in
great poverty with his wife. He was as dull as a
sheep, but she was as wily as a serpent, and she was
so bad tempered that she used to beat him for any
little thing that put her out.
One day the woman begged some corn of a neigh-
bour so that she might make some bread, and she
sent her husband off to the mill with it to get it
ground. The miller knew they were very poor, so he
ground the com for nothing, and the man set off to
go home with the flour. As he was on his way there
came all of a sudden such a fierce blast of wind that
all the flour was, in a moment, blown away out of
the pan which he carried on his head. So the man
went home and told his wife what had happened.
When she heard his story she set upon him and gave
him a hearty beating, and then, having scolded and
thrashed till she could do no more, she told him to
be off to the wind and ask it either to give him the
flour back again or to pay him for it.
The man went off out of the house, weeping ; and,
100 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
not knowing in what direction to go, he went to a
great dark forest. There he wandered about, here
and there. At last an old woman met him.
"Good man," said she, "where are you going]
How came you in these parts, where no bird ever
flies, and scarce a wild animal runs 1 "
"My mother," said he, "I have been forced to
come here. I carried some com to the mill to be
ground, and when it was finished, as I carried the
flour home, the wind came and scattered it all out of
the pan. I had no flour when I got home, and I told
my wife what had happened ; so she beat me, and
sent me ofi" to the wind to ask it to give me the
flour again or to pay me for it. So I came here to look
for the wind, but I do not know where to find it."
"Come with me," said the woman, "I am the
mother of the winds, and I have four sons. The
first is the East-wind, the second the South-wind, the
third the West-wind, and the fourth the North-wind.
Tell me, now, which wind was it that took your
" It was the South-wind," said the man.
The old woman led the man deep into the forest,
and bringing him to a little hut, said —
"Here we are, my man. Climb up upon the
stove and cover yourself up, for my children will
soon be here."
"Why should I cover myself?" asked the man.
" Because, my son, the North-wind, will be here,"
THE PEASANT AND THE WIND. 101
said the woman, "and he will otherwise freeze
In a short time the sons began to come in. When
the South-wind had arrived, the old woman told the
man to come off the stove, and said to her son —
" South- wind, my dear son, this man has a com-
plaint against you. Why do you hurt the poorl
You have taken this man's flour out of his pan.
Now give him money for it, or make him some
" Very well, mother," said the South-wind, " I will
buy the flour of him."
So saying, he turned to the man, and said —
" Here, my man. Take this basket. It has in it
all you most want — money, bread, food, and drink
of all kinds. You have only to say to it, ' Basket,
give me so and so,' and it will give you whatever
you wish. Take it to your house. I give it you for
The peasant bowed to the Wind, thanked it for
the basket, and set off homewards.
He gave the basket to his wife, and said —
" Wife, here is a basket which contains every-
thing, whatever you most want. You only have to
ask for it."
The woman took the basket, and said to it —
" Basket, give me some good flour, so that I may
The basket gave her as much as she wished.
102 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
She continued asking for very many things, and
everything she named the basket gave her.
Now it chanced that one day a nobleman was
passing by the peasant's hut. When the woman
saw him she said to her husband —
" Go and ask the nobleman to dine with us. If
you do not bring him in I will beat you till you are
The man was afraid of his wife carrying out her
threat, so he set off and asked the stranger in to
His wife meanwhile watched him from the window,
having taken out of the basket all that was required
for the dinner. There she sat, with her hands in
her lap, awaiting her husband's return with the guest.
The nobleman was astonished, and laughed at the
invitation. He would not accept it himself, but
told his attendants they might go if they wished,
and he should like to know how they dined.
So the attendants went, thinking they should fare
very badly, for the appearance of the hut would not
have led any one to suppose that there was much
feasting to be had within it. When they entered
they were vastly astonished. The dinner was such
as would have done credit had it been provided by
a host of some rank. The men sat down, and ate
and drank and made merry ; and, keeping their eyes
open the while, they observed that when the woman
wanted anything for the table she went to the basket
THE PEASANT AND THE WIND. 103
and got it given to her by it. The men began to
think how they could get the prize for themselves.
As they feasted they sent oflF one of their number to
look for a basket just like the one in the room. Off
went the man as quickly as he could, found what
he wanted, and brought it with him to the cottage.
Then while the peasant and his wife were busy,
the men slipped the new basket in the place of the
other. When they left they carried away the trea-
sure-basket with them, and coming to their master
they told him how they had been entertained.
After the feast was over and the guests had gone,
the peasant's wife cast away the food that was left,
for what was the use of keeping it when fresh could
be so easily got ? The next morning she went to
the basket and asked it for various things, but a
great change seemed to have come over it, for it
paid no heed to her.
" Old Greyhead," cried she to her husband,
" this is a nice basket you have got us ! What is
the good of it if it does not do what we tell it?
Be off to the wind again, and tell it to give you
back your flour, or I will thrash you till you are
There was nothing for it but he must go. He
came to the old woman's hut, and there he began to
tell her what a terrible wife he had got, and the old
woman told him to wait a while till her son, the
South-wind, came home.
104 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
Not long after in came the South-wind, and the
peasant told him all about his trouble.
"Well," said the wind, when he had heard him
to an end, " I am sorry, old man, that you have such
a bad wife, but I will help you, and your wife shall
thrash you no more. Here now is a cask. Take
it home with you, and when your wife threatens to
beat you, stand behind the cask and say, 'Five,
come out of the cask and beat my wife ! ' When
you think they have punished her sufficiently, say,
* Five, go back to your cask ! '"
The peasant was very grateful to the Wind, made
him his best bow, and went home. When he got
there, he said —
" There, wife, now you have a cask instead of the
His wife flew into a rage, and said —
" What do I want with your cask 1 Why didn't
you bring the flour with you ? "
She grasped a weapon as she said this, and got
ready to lay on her husband, but he slipped behind
the, cask, and when he saw how matters were, he
" Five, come out of the cask and beat my wife ! "
In an instant out sprang five big fellows, who
set to to thrash the wife. The husband looked on
till he thought she had had enough. Then he lis-
tened to her cries for mercy, and said —
" Five, go back to your cask ! "
THE PEASANT AND THE WIND. 105
In the twinkling of an eye the men ceased their
labour, and disappeared into the cask again. From
that hour the woman was much improved, and the
peasant, seeing that he should not want the cask
in order to preserve quiet at home, began to think
whether he could not somehow obtain his basket
by means of it. He concluded that the nobleman's
servants must have taken the basket away, and he
and his wife set their heads together to think how
they could get it from them.
"Since you have such a marvellous cask," said
she, "you need not be afraid even of a thousand
men. Why not then go to the nobleman and make
him give you the basket." Her husband thought
the idea was a good one, so he went off to the
nobleman's house and asked him to come outside
and fight him. He laughed at the peasant, but
thought he would have a joke with him, so he told
him to await him outside. Off went the peasant,
took his cask under his arm, and came to the spot
where the nobleman was to meet him. In a short
time he came, bringing with him several of his
servants. As soon as he had come up he ordered
his attendants to set on the peasant and give him
a good thrashing ; but he, when he saw the gentle-
man's trickery, fell in a rage, and shouted out —
" Look you, sir, will you give me back my basket,
or will you not 1 It shall be better for you all if
you do ! "
106 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
When, however, he saw that no one paid any
attention to what he said, and that the attendants
were about to thrash him, he cried out —
"Five to each man come out of the cask, and
beat them thoroughly ! "
In an instant there sprang forth five stout fellows
for each of them, and they laid upon them most
unmercifully. The nobleman was afraid he should
be beaten till there was no life in him, and so he
called out —
" Good fellow, for Heaven's sake, do not beat us
any more ! "
When the peasant heard that, he said —
" Go back to the cask, you fellows."
In a moment the cudgels ceased to play, and the
men disappeared into the cask. The gentleman had
had enough. He ordered that the basket should be
given up to the peasant as quickly as possible, and
the man taking it home with him, he and his wife
lived very happily ever after.
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH.
There was once a shepherd who looked after the
king's flocks. He had three sons, two of whom were
considered very clever, but the third was looked upon
as a fool. The elder brothers helped their father to
herd the flocks, but the youngest, who was thought
to be good for nothing, played about or went to
He passed his days and nights sleeping on the
top of the stove, and never left that place unless he
was driven from it. If he bestirred himself, it was
rather because he was too hot, or wanted something
to eat or drink. His father did not care for him,
and called him a lazy fellow, while his brothers
often tormented him, pulling him off" the stove or
refusing to let him eat. If his mother had not
looked after him he would have been nearly starved.
She, however, would caress him and give him food.
Was it his fault that he was a fool 1 Who could
tell what Heaven had in store for him 1 It some-
times happens that the wisest folk do not get on
well, and that fools, especially such as are harmless
and inoffensive, succeed in a wonderful fashion.
108 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
One day when the two brothers returned from
the fields, finding the simpleton on the top of the
stove, they made him dress and put on his hat, and
having dragged him into the yard, they gave him a
good beating, and turning him out, said to him —
" Go, simpleton, and lose no time, for you shall
have neither lodging nor supper until you have
gone to the wood and brought us a basket of
The poor fellow, full of astonishment, did not
even understand what his brothers wished of him.
After having stood for a time scratching his head,
he set off to a little forest of oak-trees which was
near at hand. All seemed wonderful and strange
to him. Right in his way he came across the dry
trunk of a tree. He went up to it, took off his hat,
and said —
"I see that other trees in the forest stand up
and wear hats of green leaves, but you alone, my
poor friend, are bare. The cold will kill you. You
are amongst just such brothers as I have. No doubt
you are a fool like myself. Will you have my hat,
Folding his arms, he wept tenderly. All of a
sudden one of the trees which grew near moved as
if it were alive. The idiot was alarmed, and was
about to fly, when the tree, addressing him in a
man's voice, said —
*, Do not fly, but stop and listen. That tree,
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 109
which was cut down so prematurely, was my son.
No one besides myself has until now wept over his
80 early blighted life. You alone have watered
him with your tears. As a reward for it, you shall
henceforth obtain whatever you ask of me, saying
the following words : —
" Oak with the golden acorns, I beseech you give
me what I want ! "
At the moment that the oak ceased, a shower of
golden acorns fell upon the idiot, who filled his
pockets with them, saluted the oak, thanked it,
and returned home,
" Ah, you simpleton ! " cried his brothers, " where
are the mushrooms ? "
"I have in my pocket some oak mushrooms,"
said the idiot.
" Eat them yourself, then, for your supper," said
they, " for you will have nothing else, you sluggard.
Where is your hat 1 "
" I covered a poor tree I came across on the road
with it ; it had nothing on it, and I was afraid it
would be frozen," answered he.
The idiot climbed upon the stove as he said this,
and lay down. All of a sudden the golden acorns
fell out of his pocket. The brothers rushed forward,
and paying no heed to the lad's remonstrances,
gathered up the acorns and took them to their
father. He told them to carry them to the king,
and tell him that one of his sons, an idiot, had
110 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
found them in the wood. When the king saw
them, he at once sent some soldiers to look through
the wood for golden acorns, but all their search
was fruitless. They came back and told him that
there was not a single golden acorn to be found in
the forest. The king fell in a great rage when he
heard that. When he was calm again, he ordered
the shepherd to come to him, and said —
"Tell your son, the idiot, that he must bring
to the court this evening a cask full to the brim
of gold acorns. If he does so he shall receive my
royal favour, and you may be assured that you shall
not be forgotten."
The shepherd went off to his son, and told him
what the king had said.
"The king," said the idiot, "I see, likes good
things. He does not ask, but commands me to do
what he wishes, and makes mere promises, and for
them he wants a fool to bring him golden acorns.
I shall not do it."
Neither the prayers nor the threats of his father
could make him change his mind. At last his
brothers pulled him oflF the stove, made him dress
and put on a hat, took him into the yard and beat
him, and then put him out, saying —
"Lose no time, you simpleton, but be oJBF, for
you shall have neither lodging nor supper till you
return from the wood with the golden acorns."
The fool did not know what to do, so he set off
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. Ill
again to the forest. In a short time he came to the
stump on which was his hat, just by the old oak.
He raised his cap, bowed, and said —
" Oak with the golden acorns, help me in my
distress, I beseech yoiL Give me what I want."
The oak shook itself, rattled its branches, and
instead of golden acorns a cloth fell into the lad's
" Take care of the cloth," said the oak, " and keep
it. In case of need, say to it —
" ' Wonderful cloth, let one who is hungry and
thirsty find here everything he wants.' "
The oak ceased, and the lad, saluting and thank-
ing it, commenced to go home. As he went he
wondered what his brothers would say to him, and
he thought how pleased his mother would be when
he told her that he had got the wonderful cloth.
When he was half-way home he met a beggar, who
said to him —
" See, I am old, ill, and ragged, for the love of
God give me something, either money or a piece of
The idiot laid his cloth on the grass, and said —
" Wonderful cloth, let those who are hungry and
thirsty find here all they want."
Immediately there was a whistling in the air;
something shone over them, and they found before
them a table set as if for a king's feast. There
were numberless dishes, goblets full of hydromel,
112 RUSSIAN AND POUSH FOLKLORE.
and glasses full of the best wines. The things on
the table were all of gold or of silver.
The idiot and his guest admired the table and
commenced to eat and drink. When they had
finished eating and drinking the table vanished,
and the idiot wrapped up his cloth and began to go
homewards, when the old man said to him —
" Give me your cloth, and take this stick in its
stead. When you speak to it such-and-such words
it belabours people so that they will give all the
world to escape from it."
The idiot, thinking of his brothers, took the
cudgel and gave the man the cloth. So they parted.
Now afterwards he considered that the oak had
told him to keep the cloth himself, and that, having
given it away, he would not be able to surprise his
mother as he had intended. So he said to the
" Stick which beats by itself, go quickly and look
for my cloth. Go, I want it back."
The stick went off at once in pursuit of the man
and soon overtook him. It set upon him, and
commenced to beat him, crying —
" So you seek the wealth of others, do you 1
Take that, you knave, and that."
The man tried to escape, but it was no use, for
the stick followed him, thrashing on, and repeating
the same words. However much he would have
liked to keep the cloth, he was obliged to throw it
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 113
aside to save himself. The stick brought the cloth
to its master, and the idiot continued his journey,
thinking how he would surprise his mother and
brothers. A little further on he met a man who
carried in his hand an empty bag.
" Stop," cried the man. " For the love of Heaven
give me some pence or a piece of bread ! My bag
is empty, and I am hungry and have a long way
The fool spread his cloth once more, and said —
" Wonderful cloth, let him who is hungry and
thirsty find here everything he wants."
They heard a whistling noise, saw something
shine in the air above them, and, immediately, in
front of them, was a table set as if for a royal
banquet. There were numberless dishes, and
hydromel and wine in plenty. The idiot and his
guest sat down, and when they had finished eating
and drinking the table disappeared. The fool
wrapped up his cloth, and was commencing his
journey, when the man said to him —
"Will you give me your cloth for my girdle?
When you say, ' Girdle, which swims so wonderfully,
for my safety and not for my pleasure, let me find
myself in a boat on the water,' the girdle will change
itself into a deep lake, upon which you can sail at
The simpleton thought how much his father
would like to always have water for his flocks. So
114 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
he gave the man the cloth for the girdle, which he
tied around him. Then he took his stick in his
hand, and the two parted. In a short time, when
the beggar was afar off, the fool began again to
remember how the oak had told him to keep the
cloth for himself, and he saw that unless he had it
he would not be able to give his mother the pleasant
surprise he had intended. So he said to his
"Stick, which beats of itself, go quickly and
look for my cloth. Go, I want it back."
The stick set off again, and coming up to the
beggar commenced to beat him, saying —
"So you seek the wealth of others, do you?
Take that, knave, and that."
The beggar tried to fly, but the stick pursued
him, and however much he would have liked to
keep the cloth, he preferred rather to save himself
from the stick. The cudgel brought the cloth to
its master, and he, having hidden it under his coat,
put on the girdle and, with the stick in his hand,
again went on his way. As he walked he thought
with pleasure of how he would be able to exercise
the stick on his brothers, and how pleased his father
would be to always have water for the king's flocks,
even though he should be in the midst of dry fields
and woods. Then he thought of his mother's surprise
at finding he had got the wonderful cloth. All of
a sudden he met a soldier clothed in rags, lame,
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 115
and covered with scars. He had once been a fine
warrior, and, addressing the young man, he
"Evil luck follows me, a man who has been a
good soldier, and who has fought well in his youth.
What has been the good of it all ? I am lamed for
life, and upon this lonely road I cannot even get
anything to eat Take pity on me, and give me
at least a piece of bread."
The fool sat down, spread his cloth, and said —
"Wonderful cloth, let him who is hungry and
thirsty find here everything he wants."
Immediately they heard a hissing noise in the
air, something shone above them, and they found
a fine table, spread as for a royal feast in front of
them. They ate and drank, and then the table
disappeared. As the simpleton was about to con-
tinue his journey, the soldier said —
"Will you give me your cloth in exchange for
this hat with six corners. It shoots of itself, and
hits, in an instant, whatever you wish. You have
only to turn it round on your head, and say — ' Hat
which fires, to please me, strike what I tell you.'
Then it shoots with such a sure aim that if your
enemy were a mile away he would bite the dust."
The lad thought it would be well to have the hat,
for how useful would it be in time of danger, and
when he wished to serve his king and country.
So he gave the cloth to the soldier, tied the girdle
116 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
again round his waist, put the hat upon his head,
took his stick in his hand, and went on once more.
He had not gone far when he thought of what
the oak had told him about the cloth, and of how
he wanted to surprise his mother with it. So he
said to his stick —
" Stick, that beats of itself, go quickly and look
for my cloth. Go, I want it back."
The cudgel went off after the soldier, overtook
him, and commenced to beat him, crying —
"So you seek the wealth of others, do you?
Take that, knave, and that."
The soldier, who was lusty in spite of his wounds,
set himself on his guard, and would have given blow
for blow, but the stick laid on so rapidly that he
at last gave in. Overcome by the pain, he threw
, down the cloth and fled. The stick took the cloth
to its master, who continued his journey.
At length he came out of the wood. He crossed
over the fields, and already saw his father's house
before him, when he met his brothers, who, running
to him, said impatiently —
" Well, simpleton, where are the golden acorns ? "
The lad looked at them, laughed, and said to his
"Stick, which beats of itself, punish those who
have oflFended me."
The stick at once left the hands of the lad and
commenced to lay itself on the brothers, crying —
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 117
"You have done your brother enough wrong.
Now, then, suflfer yourselves in your turn,"
The brothers were as much astounded as if a
kettle of hot water had fallen about their ears.
They cried out and ran off, disappearing in a cloud
of dust. The stick at length came back to its
master, who entered the house, climbed up on the
stove, and, calling his mother, told her all that
had happened. Then he said —
"Wonderful cloth, let him who is hungry and
thirsty find here all he wants."
A whistling was heard, something came spark-
ling in the air, and they found before them a table
spread as if for a king's banquet. There were
dishes, glasses, and goblets of hydromel and wine,
and all the things were of gold or silver. The
simpleton and his mother for a time admired the
feast, and then, just as they were sitting down to it,
the door opened and his father came in. He was
thunderstruck when he saw the table, but, being
invited to share the good things with them, quickly
sat down and fell to. When they had finished the
whistling noise was again heard, and all the things
The shepherd went off to the Court to tell the
king all about these wonderful things, and the king
despatched an oflQcer to the fool. When he came
into the house he found the simpleton lying on the
stove, and said to him —
118 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
'• If you love your life, listen and obey the orders
of the king. You are to send him by myself the
wonderful cloth which provides feasts of itself, and
for this you shall be honoured by the royal favour.
If you do not comply, you shall remain in your
present wretched condition, and shall, moreover,
receive the punishment of a disobedient fellow.
Do you understand me 1 "
*' Oh yes," said the lad, " I understand you ;" and
then he quietly said —
"Stick, which beats of itself, give those who
deserve them some good blows."
"With the speed of lightning the stick left the
fool's hands. Three times it alighted on the officer's
body, and then he fled. The stick, however, was
not content to let him off so easily, and it followed
him, beating him all the time, and crying —
" Promises befool children. Don't make them too
rashly. To teach you better, take that, knave, and
Beaten and bewildered, the officer returned to the
king and told him all, and when his majesty heard
that the lad had a stick which beat of its own
accord, he longed so much for it that he quite for-
got the cloth. So he sent off some of his soldiers
to the lad with orders to bring the stick. The
soldiers came to the hut and found the fool on the
"Give us the cudgel," said they. "The king
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 119
will give you what you ask for it. If you will not
give it to us we shall take it."
Instead of making a reply, the lad put on his
girdle, and said —
" Wonderful girdle, for my safety, and not for my
pleasure, let me find myself on the water."
There was a murmuring in the air, and a great
change took place. A magnificent lake — long, wide,
and deep — appeared in the middle of the plain, and
in it swam fish with golden scales and eyes of
pearls. In the middle of the lake, in a silver skiff,
was a man whom the soldiers recognised as the
fooL For a time they looked on in wonder, and
then they set off to tell the king all about it.
When the king heard of such a girdle he longed
to have it. He took counsel with his oflBcer, and
then sent off a whole battalion of soldiers to take
the fool prisoner.
This time they tried to catch him while he was
asleep. Just as they were about to lay hands on
him, however, the fool turned his hat, and said —
"Hat that shoots, to please me, strike those
who trouble me."
At that instant a hundred bullets whistled in the
air. The place rang with the noise of guns, and
the air was filled with smoke. Some of the soldiers
fell dead on the ground, others ran off to hide them-
selves in the woods, and some went to tell the
120 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
The king was dreadfully angry to think that he
could not get the better of the fool. He had
desired to have the cloth, to have the stick, to have
the girdle, but what were any of these things to
the wonderful six-cornered hat which, of its own
accord, fired and shot down its opponents as well
as if it had been a battery of cannon !
Having considered for some time, he thought it
would, perhaps, be best to try persuasion. So he
sent to the lad's mother, and said to her —
"Tell your son, the fool, that I and my lovely
daughter salute him, and we beg of him to come
to the palace and show us all the wonderful things
we are told he possesses. If he is willing to make
me a present of them I will give him half my
kingdom, and will name him as my successor in
the throne. My daughter also will take him for
The mother ran off to her son, and persuaded
him to accept the king's invitation, and go to the
palace with his wonderful treasures. The lad
fastened on his girdle, put on his hat, hid the cloth
in his bosom, took his stick in his hand, and set
off to the Court. When he came there the king
was engaged, but the lad was received very politely
by his attendants. Music struck up as he came
to the palace, the soldiers presented arms, and al-
together the lad was received very much better than
he could have expected. At length, when he was
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 121
introduced into the hall in which was the king,
the lad took off his hat and bowed.
"What," said he, "0 king, do you desire 1 I
have come to lay at the foot of your throne the
cloth, the girdle, the stick, and the hat. In return
for these presents I only ask that your royal favour
may light on the humblest of your subjects."
" Tell me then, fool," said the king, " how much
money do you want for those things 1 "
"Money," replied the lad, "a fool like me does
not want money. The king promised my mother
to give me half his kingdom, and his daughter in
marriage. I only ask so much ! "
The king's officer signed to the soldiers to come
in. They laid hands on the lad suddenly, dragged
him out into the courtyard, and there, while the
drums beat and the trumpets sounded, they killed
him and buried him.
As the soldiers pierced him to the heart, some
drops of blood sprang forth, and fell under the
windows of the princess, who wept at the sight and
shed tears on the reddened earth. Wonderful to
tell ! from these drops of blood there sprang up an
apple-tree which grew till it reached the windows
of the princess's apartments. When the princess
laid her hand on the boughs of the tree, an apple
fell off into her bosom. The princess took it up
and played with it.
The next day, when night came on, all were
122 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
asleep in the palace save the guards, the king's
officer, and the princess. The guards were watch-
ing, as usual, with their arms in their hands. The
princess was playing with the apple, and could not
sleep. As for the king's officer, soon after he
lay down he was roused by a terrible noise. The
cudgel appeared before him, and though he ran
round and round his chamber, it pursued and beat
him, crying —
"You good-for-nothing fellow! Don't be so
envious and unjust. Don't return evil for good,
and steal what belongs to others. Take that, and
that, and that ! "
The officer called aloud and cried for mercy, but
the stick still laid on.
The princess, hearing some one groaning, began
to weep, and then a wonderful thing happened.
Some of her tears fell on the apple. It grew,
changed its form, and, all of a sudden, there stood
before her a fine young man, the very same as had
been slain under her window.
"Fair princess," said he, "I salute you. The
treachery of the king's officer caused my death,
and your tears have recalled me to life again.
Your father promised to give you to me for my
wife : what do you say 1 "
" If it is my father's wish," replied the princess,
" I consent," and she gave him her hand.
The lad spoke some words and the doors opened
THE WONDERFUL CLOTH. 123
of themselves. The six-cornered hat came and
placed itself on his head, the girdle came and
wound itself around his waist, the cloth hid itself
in one of his pockets, and the avenging cudgel
placed itself in his hands.
When this had taken place the king came running
in. How astonished was he to see the fool alive,,
and there ! The lad did not await for the king to
give vent to his rage, but said —
" Wonderful girdle, for my safety, and not for my
pleasure, let me find myself on the water."
There was a murmuring in the air. A wonderful
change took place. A large, wide, and deep lake
appeared in the middle of the palace grounds. In
the crystal waters played fish with golden scales
and eyes of pearl. Afar off on the water were the
fool and the princess. The king came to the side
of the lake and beckoned the lad to him. He came,
and with the princess knelt at the king's feet, and
told him how they two were in love with one
another. The king gave them his blessing. The
lake disappeared, and the three returned to the
palace, when the king, calling his counsellors, told
them all that had occurred. Then he named the
fool as his successor on the throne, gave him his
daughter, and threw his officer into prison.
In return, the lad gave the king the cloth, the
stick, the girdle, and the hat, telling him how to
use them, and teaching him the magic words. The
124 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
next day the marriage took place, and, with his
daughter, the king gave the lad half of his
dominions, and in the evening there was a royal
feast, so grand that the like was never before seen
or heard of.
THE EVIL EYE.
There was once upon a time a rich gentleman
who lived in a fine house on the banks of the
Vistula. All the windows in the house looked
towards the river, none looked towards the wide
sweep of country around. The path under the
poplars which led up to the house was overgrown
with grass and weeds, and showed plainly enough
that none of the neighbours visited there, and that
very little of the old hospitality was to be ex-
The gentleman who owned the house had lived
there for seven years, and had come from some far-
oflF place. The peasants knew little about him, and
they avoided him with fear and trembling, for there
were terrible tales about him.
The gentleman was born on the banks of the
river Sau, and his parents had been rich. Mis-
fortune, however, had pursued him from the cradle
upwards. He had an evil eye, which scattered disease
and death wherever its glances fell. If he by ill
chance glanced over his herd, the cattle on which
126 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
his eye fell died. Whatever he loved would surely
die. His own parents, to complete the son's sorrow,
perished, and the man with the evil eye, as he came
to be called in his birthplace, where the evil eye
had caused so much mischief, sold everything he
had, and set off to the banks of the Vistula, where
he bought the fine house. He kept no folk about
him save one old manservant, who had nursed him
in his arms when he was a boy, and on whom the
evil eye of his master had no effect.
The unlucky man seldom went out of his house,
for he knew that his glance brought misfortune,
disease, and death on what it lighted on. When he
did go out in his carriage his old servant sat beside
him, and told him when they were coming to a
man, a village, or a town. Then the miserable
man would either cover his eyes with his hands, or
cast down his glances on the floor of his carriage,
where he always had a bundle of pea-stalks at his
So it was that he had all the windows of his fine
house made to look over the Vistula. Twice had
he by ill chance looked 'upon his farm-buildings,
and they had been set on fire by his glance.
In spite of all his care the sailors cursed him,
and pointed with fear to the wide windows of his
beautiful house, out of which he scattered destruc-
^ When the evil eye is directed to a bundle of pea-stalks
it does no damage, but merely dries up the stalks.
THE EVIL EYK 127
tion amongst them, the stream rushing on fast in
the channel, and bringing many a ship to ground
opposite the White House, as the place was called.
One boatman determined to see the man. He
jumped into his boat and set oflF to the house.
When he arrived there he asked to see the master.
The old servant, fearful of the consequences, led
him into the room. His master was dining, and
being put out that he should be interrupted at his
meal, he frowned upon the stranger. Immediately a
fever took the sailor, and he sank down on the floor
at the door.
The old servant, at the command of his master,
took the man to his boat, gave him some money,
and rowed him back to the other side of the river.
The poor sailor was ill for a long time, and when he
regained his strength he gave such a terrible account
of the White House, and of its master, as greatly
increased the fear of his comrades. From that
time, when they went down the river in their boats
and came opposite to the White House, they would
turn their eyes away, and pray heartily that they
might be protected from the evil glance of the
terrible man who lived there.
Three years had passed, and the White House was
still the dread of the neighbours and the terror of
128 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
the sailors. No one came to see the much-feared
man, and he lived solitary and miserable.
The next winter was very severe. The wolves,
coming together, howled with hunger around the
house, and the master sat by the hearth, on which
burned a large fire, and sorrowfully turned over the
leaves of a large book. The old servant had secured
all the doors, and sat at the other side of the room
warming himself, and busied in mending a fishing-
" Stanislas," said his master, " have you caught
any fish 1 "
" Not many, master, but as many as we two shall
" That is true," said his master. " Although so
many years have passed, we are but two. un-
lucky hour in which I was born ! Here am I alone,
and all men fly from me as if I were a monster,"
and the tears fell in a torrent from his unfortunate
All of a sudden they heard a voice crying for
help. The master started. It was a long time
since he had heard a strange voice. The old servant
rushed out, and his master followed him with the
light in his hand.
Before the door stood a covered sledge, and by it
was an old man who called for help.
As soon as the stranger saw the two men coming
to him, he lifted his wife, who had fainted, out of
THE EVIL EYE. 129
the sledge, and the old servant helped the terrified
daughter, a beautiful girl, to alight.
They put on more wood, and brought the fainted
lady round, and the master of the house, pleased to
be able to show hospitality, went and fetched some
old wine in order to drink the strangers' healths.
The old servant laughed to himself as he marked
his master's joyful face. The strange guest, cheered
by the wine, told how they had lost their way, how
they had fallen in with a pack of hungry wolves,
and how their fleet horse had carried them to the
Towards night the luggage was taken out of the
sledge, and the wearied travellers retired to rest in
warm, comfortable chambers. All was still in the
White House, save that the fire now and then sent
forth a glimmering flame.
It was within an hour of midnight, and the old
servant was asleep by the fireside, when the door of
his master's bedchamber opened and the unhappy
man trod lightly into the hall. The old servant,
wondering whether he was dreaming, rubbed his
eyes, and said —
" What, cannot my master sleep ? "
" Be quiet, old friend ! " said his master in a
joyful voice. "I, cannot sleep, and do not wish to
sleep when I am so happy as I now am."
130 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
And he sat down in a big arm-chair by the fire-
side, smiled, and commenced to weep.
"Weep, poor master, weep," said Stanislas to
himself. "Maybe you may weep your evil eyes
"Would that God would give me what I now
wish," said his master, " and I would ask for nothing
more in the world. Here have I lived thirty years
like a hermit or a criminal, and yet I have never
willingly hurt any one, and my soul is free from sin,
but my eyes, my eyes ! "
His countenance, which was so happy till now,
became gloomy as usual ; but soon a smile appeared
on his face, as hope once more chased away
" Dear friend ! " said he, and Stanislas looked at
him, "maybe I shall marry."
" Heaven help us ! " cried the old servant, " But
where then is your future bride ? "
The master rose from his chair, walked on tip-
toe to the side-door, which led to the chambers
where slept the travellers, and, pointing to the door,
Stanislas nodded his head, as if he approved of
his master's choice, and cheerfully put some wood
upon the fire. His master went back to his room
in deep thought, and the old servant mumbled to
THE EVIL EYE. 131
" Heaven grant it ! But pears don't grow on
And he was soon asleep.
On the following morning the traveller rose rested
and refreshed, but he was not able to continue his
journey in consequence of the illness of his wife.
The master of the house was pleased when he
heard that the strangers must pass some more days
in his house, and old Stanislas began almost to
think that the pears might grow on the willows
The stranger was not exactly a rich man, but he
had enough, was deemed an honest man, and lived
honourably. He was much pleased with his friendly
host, and as he was one day talking to his wife, who
bad much improved in her health, he said —
" Margaret, it strikes me that our host is in love
with our daughter Mary, and, from what I can see,
I think she does not dislike him. I cannot but be
pleased with it."
" Oh," said his wife, " you only imagine it." But
she was secretly pleased that her husband had no
objection to what she had herself very much
" The man is not poor, he has lived here a long
time, he has proved himself a gentleman," went on
the husband, walking up and down the room, " and
132 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
our daughter is old enough to be married and take
on her the cares of a household."
In the evening the husband, having partaken of
the host's good wine, stroked his grey moustache
with satisfaction, and listened with joy when the
master of the house asked for his daughter's
"My brother," said he after a short pause, " I am
pleased with you, and since you ask no dowry with
my daughter, and you have enough to live upon,
she shall be your wife."
Three months later the terrible man took his
wife home. The grass and weeds were cleared from
the avenue of poplars, and many horses and carriages
passed along it to and fro, as relations and friends
of the beautiful bride came in troops to the wedding
at the White House. In a few days, however, all
was still again, and fresh grass and weeds began to
grow in the avenue under the poplars.
The winter was at hand, and the inmates of the
White House only numbered one more — the mistress
of the house.
Most of the servants whom the master had
engaged ran away at once as soon as they heard
he had an evil eye, and those who stayed a while,
having been taken ill, soon left the house also.
The young, beautiful wife lay ill upon her rich bed.
THE EVIL EYE. 133
Near her was her husband, who, with averted eyes,
pressed her cold hand.
The poor wife knew well how terrible was her
husband's glance. She knew that through it her
suffering and sorrow were increased ; but still, in her
love for the sorrowing man, she asked him to look
upon her once more.
"My Mary," said the wretched man, with a deep
sigh. " I shall never be happy with you so long as
I have my eyes. Cut them out, then. Here is a
sharp knife, and at your hand it will cause me no
The poor wife sliuddered at this terrible proposal,
and the wretched man sank from his chair to the
floor, and commenced to weep bitterly.
" Of what use is this gift of Heaven to me 1 "
cried he. " Of what use is it to me to possess the
pleasures men have in sight, when my eyes scatter
destruction and ruin around ? You are ill, my
Mary. Why, a tree itself would wither when I cast
my glance upon it in an evil hour. Take courage,
though. Upon our child these eyes shall never
look. Him they shall never harm, and he shall not
have reason to curse his father."
A groan was the only answer of the sick wife.
The master called in a servant and left the room.
All at once two different cries were heard from the
two opposite sides of the White House.
From one side came the cry of a new-born child,
134 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
from the other side, in the hall where the fire
burned, came the cry of a man in pain. The one
was the cry of an infant as it looked upon the light
for the first time, the other was the cry of a man
who had bid farewell to sight for ever.
Six years later there were windows in the White
House from which one could obtain a fine view of the
village and the surrounding country. The sailors
had begun to make the House a resting-place on
their way down the stream. The mistress was well
and merry, and her great joy was a beautiful little
daughter who led her blind father about.
The country-folk, who had fled in terror from
the miserable man, now came up to him in friend-
ship, when they saw him blind and taking a walk
led by his little daughter. The former stillness
departed. The servants filled the once empty halls
of the White House.
Old Stanislas had on that terrible day buried his
master's eyes in the garden. One day he wondered
what had become of them, and whether he could
find them. So he dug for them. All of a sudden
the eyes glared on him with a bright light. Hardly
had the glance fallen on his face when he stumbled
and, falling to the ground, died.
That was the first time the evil eyes had done
him hurt, and it was the last time their power was
THE EVIL EYE. 135
exerted. They had done him no hurt while his
master kept them, because, as he loved his servant,
his heart had destroyed their power. Now they
were in the earth they had acquired power for fresh
evil, and killed the honest old man !
His blind master sorrowed long for him, and
over his grave he placed a fine cross, near which the
sailors often offered up a prayer when they landed
at the Wliite House.
THE SEVEN BROTHERS.
Once upon a time there lived an old man and
an old woman, who had been married many years
and had no children, and when they were yet old
they prayed to God to give them a child who might
help them in their work as they advanced in years.
Their prayer was heard. When seven years had
passed the old woman gave birth to seven sons, and
they were all called Simeon. When the children were
ten years old the old man and his wife died, and
the sons began to till his ground.
It chanced that one day the Czar Ados came past,
and, seeing them working in the fields, he was
astonished to see such little fellows doing such work.
He sent one of his nobles to ask whose children
they were. So the noble came to them and asked
who they were who worked so hard. The eldest
Simeon told him that they were orphans and had no
one to work for them. As for their names they
were all called Simeon.
When the Czar got back to the palace he called
together all his nobles and asked them their opinion,
THE SEVEN BROTHERS. 137
" My lords, there are seven orphans who have no
kinsfolk. I will make them such men that they shall
be grateful to me. Now, I want your advice as to
what trade or art I shall have them taught."
Then all answered —
"Gracious sire, since they are old enough and
have ability, we think it would be best to ask each
of them what trade or art he wishes to learn."
The Czar was pleased with this advice, and asked
the eldest Simeon —
"Tell me, friend, what trade or art would you
like to learn 1 I will see that you are instructed
The lad answered —
" May it please your majesty, I wish to learn no
art, but if you will order a smithy to be built in
the middle of your court, I will smithy a column
which shall reach to heaven."
The Czar saw that this Simeon required no
teaching, since he was such a smith, for he showed
him very costly work, but he did not believe that
he would be able to smithy a column that should
reach to heaven. However, he ordered a place to
be built in the middle of his yard, and the eldest
Simeon set to work.
Then the Czar asked the second Simeon —
" And you, my friend, what art will you learn 1 "
"Your majesty," said he, "I do not wish to
learn any business or trade, but when my brother
138 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
has finished the column, I will stand on the top of
it, look around into all the countries, and let you
know what is passing in each of them."
The Czar perceived that there was no need to
teach this lad anything, since he was so clever
Then he said to the third Simeon —
" What business or what art will you learn ? "
" Your majesty," said he, " I do not wish to learn
either handiwork or art, but if my eldest brother
will make me an axe, I will build a ship in an
" Such a man do I want," said the Czar. *' You,
too, have nothing to learn."
" And you," said the Czar to the fourth Simeon,
" what handiwork or what art do you wish to learn ] "
" Your majesty," said he, " I do not wish to learn
anything, but, when my brother has finished his
ship, and it is attacked by the enemy, I will seize it
by the prow, carry it to the underground kingdom,
and, when the enemy is gone, I will put it again on
The Czar was very much astonished, and said —
" You, too, have nothing to learn."
Then he spoke to the fifth brother —
" And you, Simeon, what handiwork or what art
will you learn ? "
" I want to learn nothing, your majesty," said he,
" but if my eldest brother will make me a gun, T
THE SEVEN BROTHERS, 139
will shoot with it any bird that flies, however far
ofi^ it be, so that I am able to see it."
" You will be an excellent sportsman," said the
Then he asked the sixth brother —
" Well, Simeon, what art do you wish to
learn 1 "
" I wish to learn no art, your majesty," said he,
" but if my fifth brother shoots a bird, I will catch
it before it comes to the ground and bring it to
" That is very clever," said the Czar. " You will
do instead of a dog in the field."
Then the Czar asked the last brother —
" And you, Simeon, what handiwork or art will
you learn ] "
" I want to learn neither handiwork nor art, your
majesty," replied he, " for I already know a precious
" What is it," asked the Czar, " that is so good ? "
" I am so skilful at stealing," said he, " that no
one can beat me at it."
When the Czar heard that the lad was acquainted
with such a wicked art, he was angry, and said to
his nobles —
" My lords, let me have your advice as to how
this thief, Simeon, should be punished. What death
should he die 1 "
" Your majesty," said they all, " why should he
140 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
die? It is not unlikely, since he is such a clever
thief, that he may prove useful in some case."
*' How so 1 " asked the Czar.
" Your majesty," said they, " has during the last
ten years sought the hand of the Czarina, the
beautiful Helena, in vain, and lost many armies and
much treasure. Now this thief, Simeon, may
devise some means of stealing the Czarina for your
"You say well, my friends," observed the Czar,
and he went and said to the thief —
"Now, Simeon, can you wander over seven and
twenty countries into the thirtieth and steal for
me the beautiful princess, Helena ? I love her very
much, and if you procure her for me you shall be
"We will see to it," said he, "you have but to
" I do not merely command," said the Czar, " but
I beg of you not to remain longer at my court, but
to take what armies you wish to effect your purpose."
" I do not want either your armies or your trea-
sure," said the thief. " Only send all of us to-
gether, for I can do nothing without the others."
The Czar did not wish for all the brothers to go,
but though he thought it hard, he was obliged to
In the meantime the eldest brother had completed
the iron column in the smithy in the court of the
THE SEVEN BROTHERS. 141
palace. The second brother climbed up to the top,
and from there he saw the kingdom of the fair
Helena's father. He called out to the Czar Ados —
"Your majesty, beyond twenty-seven countries
in the thirtieth there sits, at a window, the Czarina,
the beautiful Helena. How fair she is ! One can
see every blue vein in her white skin."
Then the Czar was more in love with her than
ever, and cried out to the Simeons —
" My friends, set out as quickly as you can and
return soon. I can live no longer without the beau-
The eldest Simeon smithied a gun for the third
brother, and carried bread for the journey. The
thief took with him a cat, and so they set out.
Now the thief had so trained the cat that it ran
after him everywhere, just like a dog, and when he
stood still it stood by him, on its hind-legs, rubbing
against him and purring. So they went on till they
came to the shore of a sea over which they must
pass. For a long time they walked about on the
shore and looked for wood, in order to build a ship,
and at last they came to a great oak. The third
brother took his axe and cut away at the root. The
oak was brought to the ground, and a ship was in a
moment built from it, filled with all kinds of precious
things. The brothers entered the ship and sailed
After some months they came to the place they
142 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
sought, and cast anchor in the harbour. The next
day the thief, taking his cat, went into the town,
and, coming to the Czar's palace, stood in front of
the Princess Helena's window. His cat at once
stood up on its hind-legs and began to rub itself
against him, and to purr. Now a cat had never be-
fore been seen in that kingdom, nor, indeed, had the
people knowledge that there was any such animal.
The princess sat at the window, and, when she
saw the cat, she sent out her servants and maids to
ask Simeon if he would sell it, and if so, what he
wanted for it. The servants came to Simeon, and
asked him what kind of animal the cat was, and
whether he would sell it.
" Tell her majesty, the beautiful Helena," said the
thief, " that the animal is called a cat. I cannot sell
it, but, if her majesty pleases, I desire the honour of
making her a present of it."
The attendants took the message to the princess,
who, when she heard it, was delighted, and coming
out of her chamber she asked Simeon why he would
not sell the cat.
" I cannot sell the cat, your majesty," said he,
" but, if you please, I will give it to you."
The princess took the cat in her arms, and going
back to her apartment, told Simeon to follow. When
they were in the palace, she went to her father, the
Czar Say, showed him the cat, and told him that a
stranger had given it to her. The Czar was very
THE SEVEN BROTHERS. 143
much pleased with the strange animal, and ordered
that the thief Simeon should be brought to him.
When he came, the Czar wished to give him trea-
sures in return for the cat, but, as Simeon refused all,
the Czar said to him : " My friend, stay for a while
in my palace. The cat will become more familiar
to my daughter if you are here."
Simeon, however, did not wish to stay, and
"It would give me the greatest pleasure, your
majesty, to stay in your palace if I had not a ship
in which I came to your country, and which I can
leave in charge of no one. If, however, your majesty
wishes it, I will come every day to the palace, and
get the cat accustomed to your daughter."
So the Czar ordered him to come. Simeon went
every day to the beautiful Princess Helena, and one
day he said to her —
" Gracious lady, I have come a long while to you,
but I have noticed that you never go out. Would
you not like to see my vessel ? I could show you
fine goods, gold-stuflF, and diamonds, such as you
have never seen."
The princess went away to her father, and begged
his permission for her to take a walk on the quay.
The Czar gave it her, but told her to take her
attendants and maids with her. So the princess
went with Simeon. When they had come to the
quay, Simeon invited the princess on board his
144 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
vessel, and, calling his brothers to show her all the
various goods, he said, after a time —
" Tell your servants and maids to leave the ship
so that I can show you some costly things they must
So the princess bade them leave the vessel.
"When she was alone, the thief ordered his brothers
to cut the cable, set all sail, and put out to sea. In
the meanwhile he amused the princess, showing her
the things, and giving presents to her. So they
spent several hours examining the goods. At last
the princess told him that it was time for her to go
home, as the Czar would be expecting her. But
when she went up out of the cabin, she saw that the
vessel was already far out at sea, and that she was
far away from the coast. Then she beat upon her
breast, changed herself to a swan, and flew upwards ;
but the fifth Simeon, seizing his gun, shot at her,
and the sixth caught her as she was falling into the
water and brought her to the vessel. The princess
became a young woman once more.
The attendants and maids, who had gone to the
quay with the princess, and had seen the ship sail
away with her, told the Czar of the trick Simeon
had played them, and he ordered that all his fleet
should go in pursuit. It had come near to Simeon's
vessel, when the fourth brother laid hold of the
vessel by the prow and dragged it off to the under-
ground kingdom. The sailors of the fleet saw the
THE SEVEN BROTHERS. 145
vessel vanish, and they thought that it had sunk
with the beautiful princess ; so, going back to the
Czar Say, they told him of the ship's disap-
The brothers came safely home, and led the fair
Princess Helena to the Czar Ados, who gave the
Simeons, in reward for their great service, their
freedom and much gold, silver, and many precious
stones. And he lived with the princess for many
years, prosperous and happy.
SILA CZAEOVITCH AND IVASOHKA.
There was once upon a time a Czar called Chotei,
who had three sons. The first was called Aspe, the
second Adam, and the third, the youngest, Sila.
The elder brothers came to their father and asked
him to let them go and travel in other countries, so
that they might see the world and learn how things
were. The Czar gave them his permission, and let
them each have a vessel in which they might sail.
Then the youngest brother came to the Czar and
asked him to let him go with his brothers.
"My dear son," said the Czar, "you are too
young to bear the fatigues of a journey. Stop here
then at home, and do not think of going abroad."
Sila, however, wished very much to see the
strange countries, and so wearied his father with his
prayers, that at last he gave him his permission to
go, and let him have a vessel also. As soon as the
three brothers were on board their ships they set
sail When they came to the open sea, however,
the eldest brother's vessel went on first, the second
brother's next, and Sila's came last.
As they sailed, the third day there came floating
SILA CZAROVITCH AND IVASCHKA. 147
past them a coflin with iron bands. The two eldest
brothers saw it, but did not pick it up. When
Sila, however, saw it, he gave orders to his sailors to
secure it, bring it on board, and bury it when they
came to a suitable spot. On the following day a
great storm came on, and Sila's ship, being driven
out of its proper course, drifted to the steep shores
of an unknown land. When they arrived there,
Sila ordered the sailors to carry the coffin on shore,
and he followed it himself and saw it buried in the
Sila then told the ship's master to stop where the
vessel was for three years, waiting for him. If he
did not come back at the end of that time, he told
the man he was to sail away. Then Sila took
leave of his captain and his men, and went away
following his eyes. For a long time he went on and
met no one. On the third day, however, he heard
a man running after him, clothed in white. When
he saw that the man was coming up to him, he drew
his sword, fearing that the stranger might intend to
do him some hurt. But when the man came up to
him, he fell down at his feet, and began to thank him
for having rescued him. Sila, not understanding
what he meant, asked him why he thanked him, and
what good service he had done him. The unknown
sprang to his feet, and said —
" Sila Czarovitch, how can I ever repay you ?
There I lay in my coffin, which you took on board
148 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
and buried on the land, and so was I rescued from
'• How came you in the coffin 1 " asked Sila.
" I will tell you all," said the man. " I was once a
great magician, and my mother, fearing that I did
a great deal of harm to folk by my magic, confined
me in the coffin, and turned me out upon the sea. I
have been floating for over a hundred years, and no
one ever picked me up. You I have to thank for
my deliverance, and in return for it I will aid you
in any way I can. Tell me, do you not wish to
marry 1 If you do, I know the beautiful Queen
Truda, who would make you a worthy wife."
Sila told him that if the queen were beautiful
he would be content to marry her. Ivaschka, in the
white grave-clothes, assured him that she was the
most beautiful woman in all the world, and Sila,
when he heard that, asked his companion to go with
him to her country. So they went on together.
Now Queen Truda's kingdom was surrounded by
a fence with posts, and on every post, save one, was
a man's head. When Sila saw that he was alarmed,
and asked Ivaschka what it meant.
"Those," said Ivaschka, "are the heads of the
warriors who came to ask the Queen Truda to marry
Sila was afraid when he heard that, and wished
himself back again in his own kingdom. He did
not wish to go on and see the father of the
SILA CZAROVITCH AND IVASCHKA. 149
queen, but Ivaschka told him he had nothing to
fear if he went on boldly with him. So Sila and he
went on together.
When they had entered the kingdom, Ivaschka
said to him —
"Listen, Sila Czarovitch, I will live with you as
your servant. When you come to the royal apart-
ments, behave humbly to King Salom. He will ask
you where you come from, what country you belong
to, who your father is, what is your name, and on
what errand you have come. Tell him all, and do
not try to conceal anything. Tell him that you have
come to ask for his daughter's hand, and he will
give her to you with the greatest joy."
Sila went into the palace, and when King Salom
saw him he came to meet him, took him by the
white hands, led him into the white marble room,
and said to him —
" Young man, who are you 1 From what kingdom
do you come 1 Who is your father 1 What is your
name 1 and why are you come ? "
" I have come," replied Sila, " from the kingdom
of the Czar Chotei; I am known as Sila Czarovitch,
and I have come here to ask for your daughter, the
beautiful Queen Truda, for my wife."
Then King Salom was very pleased when he
• heard that the son of so famous a Czar desired
to wed his daughter, and he at once sent to her,
to tell her to get ready for the wedding. When
150 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
the day came, the king commanded all the princes
and nobles to come to the palace. From there they
went to the church, and Sila Czarovitch married the
beautiful Queen Truda. The company went back
to the palace, seated themselves at table, and ate
and drank with great joy.
When evening was come Ivaschka came near to
Sila, and said to him softly —
" Listen, Sila Czarovitch. When you retire with
your wife, take care you do not say a word to her, or
you are a dead man, and your head will find a place
on the last post. She will do all she can to make
you speak, but do not you say a word to her."
Sila asked him why he gave him this warning.
" She is," said Ivaschka, " acquainted with a
spirit which flies through the air in the shape of a
dragon with six heads. Your wife will lay her
hand upon your breast. When she does so,
spring up and beat her with a stick till she has no
strength left in her. I will myself watch at the
door of the room,"
The queen did, as Ivaschka foretold, do all
she could to make Sila speak, but he would not
utter a word. Then Truda put her hand on his
breast, and pressed him, so that he could hardly
breathe. Sila jumped up, seized a stick, which
Ivaschka had put there for the occasion, and com-
menced to beat her as if he would kill her. Im-
mediately there came on a terrible storm, and there
SILA CZAROVITCH AND IVASCHKA. 151
flew into the room a six-headed dragon who com-
menced to attack Sila. Then Ivaschka came in
with a sharp sword in his hand, and he and the
dragon fought together for three hours, when
Ivaschka managed to cut off two of the dragon's
heads, and the monster flew away. Ivaschka then
told Sila he might go to sleep and fear nothing.
So Sila laid him down and slept till morning.
King Salom was anxious respecting his son-in-
law, and he sent early in the morning to ask if all
was well with him. When he heard that it was,
he was delighted, for he remembered the fate of the
others who had come to marry his daughter. He
summoned Sila to him, and they spent the whole
day in merriment.
The next night Ivaschka warned Sila that he
must not speak to his wife, and he himself took up
his station outside the door of the room. Sila's wife
again tried to make him speak, and again put her
hand upon his breast, and Sila leaped up and thrashed
her. The dragon flew in and attacked him, but
Ivaschka sprang in from the door with the sword
in his hand, and after he and the dragon had
fought for three hours Ivaschka cut off two more of
its heads. Then the dragon flew off and Sila lay
down to sleep. The king again sent for Sila to
come to him, and they spent the day together very
The third night Ivaschka warned Sila as before,
162 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE,
and Sila did as he was bid. Ivaschka again fought
with the monster, and, cutting off the two last heads,
he burnt them and the carcass, and scattered the
ashes over the fields.
So Sila Czarovitch stayed with his father-in-law
for a whole year, and then Ivaschka, coming to hira
one day, told him to ask the king to give him permis-
sion to return home. Sila went to King Salom and
obtained his leave to go, and the king sent two
divisions of his army with him as an escort. So
Sila parted with his father-in-law, and set off with
his wife for his own land.
When they were half-way home Ivaschka told
Sila to stop and camp there. Sila did as he advised,
and ordered his tent to be put up. On the next day
Ivaschka took some pieces of stick and burnt them
in front of the Czarovitch's tent. Then he came to
the tent, led Queen Truda outside, and unsheathing
his sword he cut her in two, Sila was greatly
terrified, and commenced to weep when he saw that.
" Do not weep," said Ivaschka, " she will come to
As soon as the Queen was cut in two there came
out of her all manner of evil spirits, and all of these
Ivaschka threw into the fire. Then said he to
" Do you see the evil things which possessed your
wife 1 They are all evil spirits which had entered
SILA CZAROVITCH AND IVASCHKA. 153
.When all the evil spirits were destroyed in the
fire, he placed the two parts of Truda's body to-
gether, sprinkled them with water from a running
brook, and the queen became alive again. She was
now also as good as she had before been eviL
Then said Ivaschka to Sila —
" Good-bye, Sila Czarovitch, you will see me no
more ;" and as soon as he had spoken those words he
Sila struck his tent and went on homewards, and
when he came to the spot where he had left his
ship, he dismissed the troops that accompanied him,
went on board with his queen, and set sail. He
soon came to his own land, and his arrival there
was greeted with the sound of cannon. Czar Chotei
came to meet him, and taking him and his wife by
their white hands he led them into the white marble
room. Then there was a feast prepared, and they
ate and drank and were merry. Sila lived with his
father two years, and then he went back to the
country of his father-in-law, King Salom. He suc-
ceeded him on the throne, and reigned with his
beautiful Queen Truda, during many years, with
much love and happiness.
THE STOLEN HEART.
Once upon a time there stood, on an island in the
Vistula, a great castle surrounded by a strong ram-
part. At each corner was a tower, and from these
there waved in the wind many a flag, while the
soldiers stood on guard upon them. A bridge con-
nected the island with the banks of the river.
In this castle lived a knight, a brave and famous
warrior. When the trumpets sounded from the
battlements of the castle, their notes announced
that he had returned from victory loaded with
In the deep dungeons of the castle many a prisoner
was confined, and they were led out daily to work.
They had to keep the ramparts in repair, and to see
to the garden. Now among these prisoners was an
old woman, who was a sorceress. She swore that
she would be revenged upon the knight for his ill-
treatment of her, and patiently awaited an oppor-
tunity to effect her purpose.
One day the knight came back wearied out with
his exertions on one of his warlike excursions. He
THE STOLEN HEART. 155
lay down upon the grass, closed his eyes, and was
soon fast asleep.
The witch seized the opportunity. Coming gently
to him, she scattered poppy seed on his eyes so that
he should sleep the sounder. Then, with an aspen
branch, she struck him on the breast over his heart.
The knight's breast at once opened, so that one
could look in and see the heart as it lay there and
beat. The sorceress laughed, stretched out her bony
arm, and with her long fingers she stole away the
heart so quietly that the knight never woke.
Then the woman took a hare's heart which she
had ready, put it in the sleeping man's breast, and
closed up the opening. Going away softly, she hid
herself in a thicket, to see the effect of her wicked
Before the knight was even awake he began to
feel the change that the hare's heart was making in
him. He, who had till now never known fear,
quaked and tossed himself uneasily from side to side.
When he awoke he felt as if he should be crushed
by his armour. The cry of his hounds, as it fell
on his ear, filled him with terror.
Once he had loved to hear their deep baying as
he followed them in pursuit of the prey in the wild
forest, but now he was filled with fear, and fled like
a timid hare. As he ran to his room the clang of
his armour, the ringing of his silver spurs, the
clatter of his spear, filled him with such terror
156 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
that he threw all aside, and sank exhausted on his
Even in his sleep fear pursued him. Once he
dreamed only of battles, and of the prizes of victory,
now he trembled as he dreamt. The barking of his
dogs, the voices of his soldiers as they paced the
ramparts while they watched, made him quake as
he lay on his bed, and he buried his head, like a
frightened child, in his pillow.
At length there came a body of the knight's
enemies to besiege him in his castle. The knight's
soldiers looked upon their leader, who had so often
delighted in the excitement of the camp, and in the
victory. In vain they waited for him to lead them
forth. The once so brave knight, when he heard
the clash of arms, the cry of the men, and the clang
of the horses' hoofs, fled to the topmost chamber of
his castle, and from there looked down upon the
force which had come against him.
When he recollected his expeditions in the time
past, his combats, his victories, he wept bitterly, and
cried out aloud —
*' Heaven ! give me now courage, give me the
old strength of heart and vigour. My men have
already gone to the field, and I, who used to lead
them, now, like a girl, look through the highest loop-
hole upon my enemies. Give me my old boldness,
that I may take my arms again ; make me what I
was once, and bless me with victory."
THE STOLEN HEART. 157
These thoughts, as it were, awakened him from a
dream. He went again into his chamber, put on
his armour, leaped upon his horse, and rode outside
the castle gate. The soldiers saw him come with
joy, and sounded the trumpets. The knight went
on, but in his secret soul he was afraid, and when
his men gallantly threw themselves upon the enemy,
deadly fear came over him, and he turned and fled.
Even when he was once more in his stronghold,
when the mighty walls held him safe within them,
fear did not leave him. He sprang from his horse,
fled to an innermost chamber, and there, quite un-
manned, awaited inglorious death.
His men had triumphed over the foe, and the salu-
tations of the guards announced their victorious
return. All wondered at the flight of their leader
at such a time. They looked for him, and discovered
him half dead in a deep cellar.
The unfortunate knight did not live long.
During the winter he tried to warm his quaking
limbs by the fireside of his castle. When spring
came he would open his window that he might
breathe the fresh air, and one day it chanced a
swallow, that had built its nest in a hole of the
roof, struck him on the head with its wing. The
blow was fatal. As if he had been struck by light-
ning, the knight fell down upon the ground, and in
a short while died.
All his men mourned for their good master.
158 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
They knew not what had changed him, but about
a year later, when some sorceresses were being put
to the ordeal for having kept off the rain, one of
them confessed that she had taken the knight's
heart, and put in his breast a hare's heart in its
place. Then the men knew how it was that a man
who had formerly been so bold of heart had become
so fearful. They mourned his misfortune, and,
taking the witch to his grave, there they burnt her
There was once upon a time a king who had au
only son named Slugobyl. The young prince was
very fond of travelling, and when he was twenty
years of age he begged his father and mother so
much to let him go to see the world, that they gave
him their consent, giving him as an attendant an
old servant on whose fidelity they thought they
could rely. The prince, well equipped and armed,
mounted his horse, and, after having taken a tender
leave, set off to distant countries in the hope of
acquiring knowledge and returning wiser, and more
fitted to rule.
As he rode along he saw a cygnet pursued by an
eagle, which threatened to overtake it every moment.
The prince seized his bow, and shot so well that the
eagle, mortally wounded, fell at his feet. The
cygnet seeing this stopped in its flight, and said to
the prince —
"Prince Slugobyl, it is not a poor cygnet that
thanks you, but the daughter of the Invisible Prince,
who, changed into this shape, sought refuge from
the pursuit of the giant Koshchei. My father will
160 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
reward you for this good action. Remember when
you have need of him, you have only to speak
these words thrice — * Invisible Prince, come to
When it had thus spoken, the cygnet flew away,
and the prince, having watched it till it was out of
sight, continued his journey. He went on for a
long time until he found himself in the midst of a
plain scorched up by the heat of the sun. Not a
tree, not a bush, not even a plant, was to be seen.
No bird flew by, no insect broke the stillness with
its hum. Everything seemed as if it had been
stricken with' death by the sun's rays. The prince,
after having travelled some hours on this plain,
began to feel very thirsty, so he sent his servant
off to see if he could find some spring or well at
which he could alight. By good luck the servant
found a well, very deep, and containing plenty of
fresh water, but there was nothing by means of
which they could draw the water up. What should
they do ? At length the prince said —
" Take the cord with which we secure our horses
and fasten it around you, and then I will let you
down into the well, for I am nearly dead with
" My prince," answered the servant, " I am heavier
Ihan you, and you are not so strong as I am. If I
go down you will never be able to draw me up again.
It would be better for you to go down the well,
PRINCE SLUGOBYL. 161
and then I can pull you up when you have drunk
as much as you wish."
The prince thought the advice good, and the
servant tied the cord under his arms, and let him
down into the well When he had drunk as much
as he wished, he got some of the water for his
servant, and then he pulled the cord as a signal for
him to draw him up. Instead of doing so, however,
the servant looked down and said to him —
"Listen to me, prince. Since the day of your
birth up to the present time you have had every-
thing you wished for, while I have undergone great
misery, and have slaved all my life. Now we will
change places. Take your choice. Will you be my
servant? If not, pray Heaven to have mercy on
you, for I shall leave you to drown."
" Stop, my good servant," said the prince, " don't
do that, I beg you. What good would it do you 1
You would never find so good a position as you
have with me, and you know that murderers meet
with a dreadful fate in the next world. Their hands
are plunged in boiling pitch, their shoulders are
scourged with red-hot iron, and their necks are
sawn with wooden saws."
"I do not care for all that," said the servant,
"but I know that I shall drown you unless you
And he commenced to loosen the cord.
" Well then," said the prince, " I agree to what
162 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORK
you ask. You shall be my prince and I will be
your servant. I pledge you my word."
"I don't believe in words," cried the servant,
" which the wind blows away. Swear to me that
you will confirm the promise in writing."
"I swear it," said the prince.
The servant let down a paper and pencil, and
dictated the following words —
" I declare that I renounce my name and all my
rights in favour of him who carries this paper, and
that I take him for my prince, and will serve him.
Signed, in the well —
The servant, who was unable to read, took the
paper, drew the prince up out of the well, and then
changed clothes with him. Thus disguised, the
two went on for a week, until they entered a large
town and came to the palace of the king. The
false prince sent his companion to see to the horses,
while he presented himself boldly to the king, and
said to him —
" I am come, sire, to ask the hand of your beauti-
ful and wise daughter, whose fame has spread even
to my father's court. If you consent I assure you
of our friendship, but if you refuse we shall make
war with you."
" The request and the threat are alike unseason-
able," said the king. " Listen, prince ; I am willing
to show my respect for the king, your father, by
PRINCE SLUGOBYL. 163
granting his request, on one condition. Our enemies,
enraged against us, have assembled a large army,
and now threaten our town. If you deliver us, my
daughter is yours."
"Very well," replied the false prince, "I will
utterly destroy the hostile army. Let them come
as near as possible to the town. I promise you
that I will acquit myself so well, that to-morrow
morning you shall find no traces of them."
When it was evening, he called his pretended
servant to him from his lodging in the stables, and,
when the prince had respectfully saluted him, said —
" Listen, my friend. Go out at once and destroy
the hostile army which is encamped outside the
city, and do it so that folk will think that I am
the vanquisher. In return for this service, I
promise to give you back the writing by which
you agree to let me have your title and to serve me."
The prince put on his armour, jumped on his
horse, and, going out of the town, called thrice on
the Invisible Prince.
" Here I am," said a voice close to him, " What
do you wish ] I will do whatever you tell me, for
it was you who saved my daughter from Koshchei,
and that is a service I shall never forget."
Prince Slugobyl showed him the army he wished
destroyed. The Invisible Prince whistled, and
"Magical horse yfith the golden mane, come to
164 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
me, not on the ground but through the air, quick as
an arrow, nimble as the lightning's flash."
That moment, in the midst of a whirlwind of
smoke, there came a magnificent horse of an iron
grey colour, and with a golden mane. It flew
like the wind. Fire came from its nostrils. Its
eyes sparkled like stars, and its ears smoked.
The Invisible Prince jumped upon it, and said to
Prince Slugobyl —
" Take my sword and go and exterminate the
left wing, while I destroy the right and the centre."
So the two set off, each to his place, and attacked
the enemy with fury. To the right and to the
left the soldiers fell like mown down grass. The
slaughter was dreadful. The soldiers fled in all
directions, but the two princes pursued them, and
only ceased their labour when there remained on
the field of battle only the dead and the dying.
Then the two returned to the town. When they
came near to the palace they shook hands. The
Invisible Prince disappeared, and Prince Slugobyl
went back to his stable.
It chanced that the king's daughter had been in
such trouble that she had not been able to sleep.
So she had gone out upon her balcony, and from
there she had observed all that had occurred. She
had heard the conversation between the false prince
and his servant. She had seen Slugobyl call the,
Invisible Prince to assist him, and she had seen
PRINCE SLUGOBYL. 165
him give his clothes and armour to the impostor,
while he told him all that he had done during the
night The princess divined all, but she resolved
to be careful, and not to speak till the right
The next day the king ordered that the victory-
gained by his guest over the hostile army should
be celebrated by great festivities. Calling his
daughter to him at the banquet, he was about to
give her to the false prince, when she, leaving the
table, made her way among the servants, and
embracing Slugobyl, who stood amongst them,
brought him forward.
"My father," said she, "and all you who are
here present, here is he who gained the victory, and
whom Heaven has sent me to be my husband. He
whom you have been honouring is nothing more
than a vile impostor, who has robbed his master
alike of his name and of his rights. Last night I
could not sleep, and, going out upon my balcony, I
saw things such as eye had never before seen, and
heard things such as ear had never before been
acquainted with. I will tell you all, but first of all
command that traitor to show you the paper by
which he claims to be what he pretends."
The false prince then produced the paper signed
by his master, and it was found to contain these
" Let the bearer of this paper, the traitorous and
166 RUSSIA.N AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
wicked servant of Prince Slugobyl, receive the
punishment he well deserves for his treachery.
(Signed), Prince Slugobyl."
" What ! " cried the traitor, " do you say that that
is what the writing means ? "
" Yes," cried they all. " That is what is here."
Then he threw himself at the king's feet and
begged for mercy, but he only received what he
deserved. He was tied to four wild horses and
torn to pieces.
Prince Slugobyl married the princess. I, who
tell you of these things, was there myself, and I
there drank wine and hydromel, but, though my
beard was wetted, none of the drink went into my
Upon an island in the midst of the sea dwelt a
princess, and with her lived twelve female attend-
ants. The princess was of extraordinary beauty.
Her face was calm and lovely as the moon, her lips
were rosy red, and when she spoke her voice was
full of music. Her eyes were remarkable. If they
looked upon one with favour, her glance filled him
with delight ; but if they were cast upon one in
anger, he was at once changed into a block of ice.
All the princess's attendants were very beautiful,
and devoted to their mistress. In time the fame of
the princess's extraordinary loveliness was spread
abroad. Folk came from all parts to see her, and
the island became full of people.
Many princes sought the princess in marriage,
but she rejected them all. Those who took her
refusal in good part returned to their homes safe
and sound, but woe to him who endeavoured to
obtain the hand of Princess Marvel by force ! Having
landed with an army on the island, he saw his
soldiers miserably perish, and he himself, pierced by a
glance from the princess's eyCj became a block of ice.
168 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
One day the great ogre Koshchei, looking around
the world, took it into his head to see all the
different kings, queens, princes, and princesses it
All of a sudden his glance fell upon the island
where dwelt the princess. He looked, and saw the
twelve beautiful attendants, and in their midst the
lovely princess, asleep. As she slept the princess
dreamt of a man who wore gold armour, was
mounted on a fiery charger, and who was armed
with an invisible club, and she felt that she loved
the chevalier more than life itself.
Meanwhile Koshchei had fallen deep in love with
the princess. Stamping three times upon the
ground, he was at once transported to the island,
but the princess, when he presented himself, rejected
him with scorn, for she felt that she could be the
wife of none but him whom she had seen in her
dream. As Koshchei was determined to carry off
the princess by force, if need be, she assembled her
troops, and went out to meet him. Koshchei with
his poisonous breath laid all the troops prostrate on
the ground in a deep sleep. The princess, however,
escaped, for, casting one of her angry glances on
Koshchei, he was turned into a block of ice, and the
princess returned to her palace. Koshchei did not
long remain in that condition. When the princess
came to her palace she found all the people within
it asleep, and Koshchei, following her there, and not
PRINCESS MARVEL. 169
daring to appear before her for fear of again feeling
the power of her eyes, built a wall of iron around
the palace, placed a dragon with twelve heads at
its gate, and waited, thinking that the princess
would at length tire of being a solitary prisoner,
and would agree to become his wife.
All upon the island were asleep, save the princess
and Koshchei. Weeks and months passed away
and Koshchei came to the gate of the palace time
after time to tell the princess that he loved her,
that resistance must be vain, and that, as his wife,
she should be queen of all the underground world.
Princess Marvel, however, listened to him in
Solitary and sad, she thought of him she had
seen in her dream. She thought of his shining
armour, his fiery horse, his invisible club, and the
glances he had cast upon her, assuring her he loved
her. She was always thinking of him. One day,
as she looked out, she saw a cloud passing along the
sky, and said to it —
*' Stop on your way through the blue sky, cloud,
and tell me where is he whom I love, and whether
he ever thinks of me."
"I do not know," said the cloud. "Ask the
The princess, seeing a breath of wind playing
amongst the flowers, said to it —
'•'AVind, you travel far and wide and are so
170 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
happy in your freedom, have pity upon me, who am
so miserable and helpless. Tell me where is he
whom I love, and whether he ever thinks of me."
"Ask the stars," said the wind. "They know
more than I do."
Princess Marvel lifted up her eyes to the bright,
shining stars, and said —
" Stars, that shine so bright, can you see my eyes
so full of tears without having pity on me 1 Tell
me where is he whom I love, and whether he thinks
"You had better ask the moon," said the stars.
" She knows more that goes on upon the earth than
we do." .
Then Princess Marvel said to the moon —
"Beautiful moon, look on me for a moment, and
tell me where is he whom I love, and whether he
thinks of me."
" Princess," answered the moon, " I know nothing
about your friend. Wait a few hours, and then you
will see the sun. Ask him. There is nothing hid
from him, and he will tell you all."
The princess waited till morning, and when the
sun rose she said to him —
" Sun, look on me, and tell me where is my love,
and if he thinks of me."
" Princess Marvel," replied the sun, " dry up your
tears and take courage. The prince is coming to
you. He has obtained the magic ring from the
PRINCESS MARVEL, 171
depths below; he has collected together an in-
numerable army to come to your rescue, and to
punish Koshchei. All will, however, be useless
unless the prince takes another course, for Koshchei
can overthrow all the prince's forces. I will go to
the prince and give him some advice. Good-bye.
I go to him who loves you. Be of good cheer, for he
will come and rescue you, and you shall be happy."
Then the sun looked down upon the country
where Prince Junak, clothed in golden armour and
mounted on a fiery horse, got ready his army to go
and attack Koshchei. Three times had the prince
seen the Princess Marvel in his dreams, and he
loved her deeply.
" Leave your army," said the sun to him, " for it
will be of no service whatever against Koshchei.
You can only deliver the princess from him by
killing him, and to learn how you are to do that
you must go to old Yaga. She can tell you how he
can be killed. I will tell you how to get a horse
which will cany you direct to her. Go towards the
east until you come to a vast plain in the middle
of which grow three oaks. Near to these you will
find in the ground an iron door. Open it, and in a
comer you will find the horse and the invisible
club, which you must have to effect your wishes.
You will afterwards learn how to proceed."
Prince Junak hardly knew what to do, but at
length he resolved to take the sun's advice, so he
172 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
took off the magic ring from his finger and threw it
into the sea. His army at once disappeared, and
the prince set out to go to the east. For eight
days he went on, and then he came to a large plain,
in the middle of which he found the three oaks of
which the sun had spoken. He saw the iron door,
opened it, and saw before him some winding steps.
He went down these till he came to another iron
door, which he likewise opened. Then he heard
the neigh of a horse in the distance. Twelve other
doors opened of themselves, and the prince at last
came to the horse, which had been confined there
during a great many ages by a magician. When it
saw the prince, the horse broke the twelve iron
chains that held it, and ran to him.
" Prince Junak," it said, " I have waited for
ages for such a man as yourself. Now I am ready
to bear you and serve you faithfully. Leap on my
back and grasp the invisible club which is attached
to my saddle. You will not, however, have to
wield it, for you have only to tell it what you want
done and it obeys you of itself. Now let us go.
Where shall I take you ] Name the place you wish
to be at, and we will be oflf at once."
The prince leaped on the horse's back, grasped
the invisible club, and set out. The horse took its
course through the air, and towards sunset the
prince came to the borders of an immense forest in
which was the residence of the old Yasra. Huge
PBINCESS MARVEL. 173
oaks stood all around. Not a bird sang, not an
insect hummed, all was profound silence. The
prince went on till he came to a hut which stood
upon fowl's feet, and which kept turning round and
"Hut," said the prince, "turn your front to-
wards me and your back to the forest."
The hut turned to him and stood still, and the
prince, going in, found the old Yaga there. When
she saw him, she cried out —
" Why are you come here. Prince Junak, where
no one has ever before been ? "
" You are a foolish witch to ask questions of me,"
said the prince, " and not to welcome me." Then
the Yaga rose and got ready everything that the
prince needed. When he had eaten and drunk and
rested himself, he told her why he had come.
"You have undertaken a difficult thing. Prince
Junak," said the Yaga, " and you will want all your
courage to succeed. I will show you how to over-
come Koshchei. In the middle of the ocean is the
island of eternal life. In the centre of the island
grows an oak, and under it is an iron coflfer. In the
coffer is a hare, under the hare is a grey duck, and
under the duck is an egg in which is contained the
life of Koshchei. If the egg is broken, Koshchei
The Prince at once set off to seek the egg. He
rode on his wonderful horse until he came to the
174 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
seashore. There he found a large fish struggling m
"Prince Junak," said the fish, "let me loose, and I
promise you your kindness shall not be forgotten."
The prince took the fish out of the net and set it
free. Then he stood upon the shore, and thought
how he should reach the island of eternal life, whose
rocks he saw afar off. As he stood silent and sad,
his horse said to him —
" Prince, what is it you are thinking of, and why
do you look so sad 1 "
" How can I be otherwise," answered the prince,
" when I find my journey here all in vain 1 How
can I reach the far-off island ? "
" Mount upon my back," said the horse, " and I
will carry you to it. Only hold on well."
The prince did as the horse told him, and the
brave steed, plunging into the sea, carried him over
to the island. When he had arrived there, the
prince looked around him, and in the middle of the
island he saw an immense oak. Going to it, the
prince seized it, and, pulling with all his force, the
oak was torn up by the roots. The tree groaned
as the prince tore it from the earth. In the place
its roots had occupied was a large hole in which
was an iron coffer. When the prince opened the
coffer out sprang the hare, and away flew the duck
carrying the egg with it. The duck made towards
the sea, and the prince, fearing he should lose the
PRINCESS MARVEL. 175
egg, shot at the bird. It fell, and with it also fell
the egg into the sea. Then the prince gave a cry
of despair, and, running down to the shore, he looked
around to see if he could see anything of the egg,
but it was not to be seen. All of a sudden a large
fish made its appearance. " Prince Junak," it said,
" I have not forgotten the service you did me, for
which I now make you some return."
As it said this the fish placed the egg upon the
shore, turned, and disappeared in the sea. Junak
was delighted. He went to his horse, leaped into
the saddle, and set off to the island where the
Princess Marvel dwelt, carrying the egg with him.
When he came there he saw the immense iron wall
Koshchei had raised around the palace, and the
dragon which lay at the gate. Six of the monster's
heads were asleep, while the other six watched.
Then the prince commanded his invisible club to
slay it. The dragon became furious under the
blows. It could not see the club, and so could not
tell to what quarter to turn itself. It rolled about,
it turned its twelve heads here and there, it darted
forth its sharp tongues, but all to no purpose. At
length, in despair, it turned its rage upon itself, and
with its sharp claws tore itself to pieces. Then the
prince went in, and, dismounting and taking the
invisible club in his hand, he sought the princess.
" Prince," said she, when she saw him approach,
" I have seen how you have overcome the dragon,
176 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
but a still more terrible conflict awaits you with my
cruel jailer, Koshchei. Be careful, I beseech you,
how you engage with him, for, should you fall, I will
cast myself down the steep precipice near the palace."
" Do not fear, Princess Marvel," replied he, " for
I hold the life of Koshchei in my hand."
Then said he to the invisible club —
** Go, and lay on to Koshchei."
The club went and commenced to deal such blows
upon Koshchei that the king of the underground
world commenced to grind his teeth, to roll his eyes,
and toss himself hither and thither. None else than
Koshchei could have borne the blows for an instant.
He looked around him but could see nothing, and
his pain was so great that he howled so that the
whole island rang again. At length he came to the
palace, and there he saw Prince Junak.
" Ah ! " said he, " you have put me to all this
pain, have you 1 "
He was about to send his poisoned breath against
him, when the prince suddenly squeezed the egg he
had in his hand. The shell broke, the yolk sprang
out and fell to the ground, and at the same moment
Koshchei fell dead. As he did so all his enchant-
ments ceased. All the people in the palace awoke,
and the iron wall disappeared.
All then was happiness. In a few days the prince
and the princess were married, and they lived joy-
fully all their days.
Once upon a time a poor scholar going to town
chanced to come across the body of a man which
had been cast by some one under the walls of the
town near to the gate. The scholar had very little
money in his pocket, but for all that he wilHngly
paid for the body to be buried in a Christian manner,
so that it might be protected from insult. Having
seen to this, he said a few prayers over the grave,
and then continued his journey.
It chanced that one day, as he passed through an
oak-wood, he felt tired, and laid himself down to
sleep under one of the trees. When he awoke, how
astonished was he to find that his pockets were all
full of gold ! He called down blessings on the head
of whoever it was that had done him this good turn,
and went on. At length he came to the bank of a
wide river too deep for him to ford. Seeing the
money he had with him, two boatmen offered to
row him across. He entered the boat, and the men
rowed till they came to the middle of the river,
when they set upon him, robbed him of his gold,
and then threw him into the water.
178 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
Almost insensible he was carried away by the
stream, but as he was floating along he found a log
of wood beside him. He clung to it, and, keeping
himself afloat by means of it, managed to scramble
to shore. The log, however, was not really what it
seemed to be. It was the spirit of the dead man
whom the poor scholar had buried, and now, when
he was on shore, the spirit spoke to him, and
" I am the spirit of him whose corpse you honoured
with burial. I am grateful for what you did, and in
return I will teach you three things : how to change
yourself into a crow, a hare, and a roebuck."
Having acquired these strange powers, the poor
man went on his way. In time he came to the
court of a mighty king, in whose service he entered
as an archer. Now this king was the father of a
beautiful princess who lived alone in a castle on a
solitary island. The walls of the castle were of
copper, and in it was a sword of such an extra-
ordinary kind that one could, by waving it in the
air, cut down a whole army at one sweep. It was
natural that the sword should be coveted by very
many, but no one durst venture upon the island to
endeavour to obtain it.
Now at the time that the poor scholar came to
the court, the king was sore troubled by his enemies,
who were invading his dominions. He had great
need of the sword, but how could he get it 1 He
THE GHOST. 179
determined to see whether there was any among his
subjects who would dare to go to the island, and so
he caused a proclamation to be published to the
effect that if any one would bring him the magical
sword he should receive his daughter in marriage
and succeed him on the throne.
For a while no one came forward, but at last the
scholar determined to make the attempt. Every one
was astonished at his audacity, but he boldly went
to the king and begged him to give him a letter that
be might deliver to the princess asking her to give
the sword to him. The king wrote the letter and
gave it to the man, who at once set out, making his
way through the forest. Unknown to him he was
followed at a little distance by another of the king's
archers who had determined to go after him and see
how he sped. To travel the quicker, the archer
assumed the shapes of a hare and a roebuck, as was
suited to the ground over which he had to pass, and
at last he came to the sea-shore. He then took the
shape of a crow, and, flying over the waves as
quickly as his wings would bear him, he at length
came to the island on which was the castle.
He landed, and, making his way to the castle,
entered and delivered the king's letter to the prin-
cess, begging her at the same time to let him have
the victorious sword. The beautiful princess, who
had lived so long without looking upon a stranger,
scanned the archer closely, and fell in love with him.
180 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
She inquired of him how it was that he had had the
courage to undertake a task from which others drew
back, and to come to the castle which had not been
visited by man for so many years, and the archer
told her all about himself and the wonderful powers
he possessed. The princess, asking him to give her
proof that what he said was true, and desiring him
to change himself into the various forms, the
archer immediately did as she desired, and a hand-
some roebuck gambolled and played around her.
As the princess stroked it she plucked a tuft of hair
out of the animal's coat, but the archer did not
notice it. Next he changed himself into a crow, and
flew about the room. The princess laid her hand
upon the bird, and, while she stroked it, contrived to
pluck some feathers out of its wing without the
archer noticing it. He last of all changed himself
into a hare, and again the princess plucked a tuft of
hair out of his coat unobserved.
Then the princess wrote a letter to her father,
delivered the sword to the archer, and dismissed him.
Taking the form of a crow, the man flew over
the sea, and, having reached the shore, he changed
himself to a roebuck, and ran till he came to the
forest. Then he changed himself into a hare, and
began to make his way as fast as possible through
the forest depths. Now, the archer who had fol-
lowed him had seen all that he had done till he
came to the sea-shore to fly over to the castle. There
THE GHOST. 181
the man had stopped awaiting the other's return.
He saw him come back in the shape of a crow,
change himself into a roebuck, and again into a
hare. As the hare was making its way through the
forest the archer bent his bow, and discharged an
arrow so well aimed that the hare at once fell dead
to the ground. The archer came up to it, took the
letter and the sword, and set out to the palace.
When he arrived there he gave the king the sword,
and demanded the promised reward.
The king was delighted to find himself in posses-
sion of the sword which would destroy all his
enemies. He confirmed his promise of the reward,
leaped into the saddle, and set off to the place where
the hostile army was encamped. Scarcely had he
come near enough to distinguish the flags of the
enemy in the distance than he brandished the sword.
At every stroke fresh foes fell to the ground, and at
last the few of them that were left fled from the field
stricken with terror at their comrades' mysterious
fate. The king collected together the booty he
foimd in the enemy's camp, and, returning home,
sent to his daughter to tell her to come to his court
so that he might give her to the archer.
Meanwhile the poor fellow who had been slain
while he was travelling as a hare lay dead in the
forest under an oak-tree. All of a sudden, however,
he came to life again, and, looking around him, he
saw the spirit of the dead man, whose body he had
182 RUSSIAN AND POLISH FOLKLORE.
buried, standing near him. The spirit told him that
it had witnessed what had befallen him, and had by
the power it possessed called him back to life.
" The wedding of the princess," it said to the man,
"is to be celebrated to-morrow, and if you would
keep her you must go as fast as you can to the
palace. She will know you as soon as she sees you,
and you will also be recognised by the archer who
so wickedly slew you."
So the young man lost no time, but went on to
the palace. When he came to the court he found
all the guests already assembled. He entered the
room, and no sooner had the princess cast a glance
on him than she knew it was he, and was beside
herself with joy. As for the treacherous archer, he
turned pale when he saw the man, whom he thought
he had murdered, alive and well.
Then the man told all the company everything
that had happened, and how the archer had slain
and robbed him. The tale was so wonderful that
the guests could scarcely credit it, so the man
changed himself into a roebuck to show them that
what he had said was true. Then the princess put
her hand in her pocket and took out of it a tuft of
hair which was found to exactly fit a bare place on
the roebuck's coat. The man changed himself into
a hare, and the princess again produced a piece of a
hare's coat which exactly fitted a bare spot in the
animal's skin. Lastly he changed himself into a
THE GHOST. 183
crow, and the princess producing the feathers she
had formerly plucked out of the bird, it was found
that they were missing in its plumage.
When the king saw all this he required no further
proof of the man's story, and he ordered that the
treacherous archer should be at once led forth and
put to death by being torn to pieces by four wild
Within the palace all was joy and festivity. The
archer married the princess, and they wanted no-
thing, for the wish of their hearts was obtained.
Printed by T. and A. Cokstable, Printers to Her Migesty,
at the Edinburgh University Press.
University of California Library
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